Community Vision Survey
Our Energy Guelph (OEG) set the objective of ensuring that both targets and actions to achieve those targets had a strong foundation of support in the community. OEG formed a Community Engagement Subcommittee consisting of the following members:
- Abhilash Kantamneni
- Alex Chapman
- Brandon Raco
- Kate Bishop
- Kirby Calvert
The subcommittee settled on the approach of a Community Vision Survey to obtain direction from Guelph citizens. The group undertook an extensive community engagement effort to support this survey, including both online and physical engagement channels.
A website (www.ourenergyguelph.ca) and social media assets were developed to assist with online engagement, along with branding and visual identity guidelines. Physical and web-based assets were created to assist with engagement, including infographic-style content to depict the following:
- Background on the CEI and OEG
- The economic story of energy in Guelph
- Challenges with existing sources of energy
- The opportunities of innovative and clean energy
- The opportunity to create a clean energy industrial cluster
These infographics are included here. This content was incorporated into trade show-style pull-up banners in a mobile exhibit named the Energy Pop-up Innovation Centre (EPIC). A contest, involving a quiz (the answers to which were found on the banner displays), was developed to encourage participation. A form was also developed to capture contact information for visitors interested in participation and volunteering. Finally, a survey instrument was created to capture feedback from the public, and made available in both paper and online formats.
Two public information sessions were held in June, one at Harcourt United Church and the other at the Evergreen Seniors Centre. The sessions were designed to accommodate drop-in participation through a tour of the EPIC displays, as well as town hall-style participation through a sit-down presentation and group Q&A.
Turnout at these sessions was lower than hoped. The approach was then revised so that rather than inviting the community to a dedicated event hosted by OEG, OEG went out into the community with EPIC. This effort took place from June through September, 2017.
Social media engagement continued throughout this period with the assistance of TrafficSoda, a social media consultancy. The results of these efforts are summarized in the document Our Energy Guelph – Traffic Soda Case Study. At the same time, OEG appeared at the following events and locations:
- Local Food Festival
- Rotary Club Canada Day Celebration
- Guelph Farmers’ Market
- Guelph Public Library
- YMCA/YWCA of Guelph
- West End Community Centre
- Canadian Solar
- Dublin Street United Church
The latter three events were “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” format, while the others were tradeshow-style exhibits. These events were staffed chiefly by the following OEG volunteers, who graciously donated their time and talents:
- Abhilash Kantanamneni
- Kirby Calvert
- Jing Chen
- Shreya Ghose
- Rebecca Jahns
- Brandon Raco
- John “JP” Thompson
In addition to providing information about OEG, the history of the CEI, and key issues and opportunities related to energy in our community, these efforts solicited tangible feedback from the community via the survey. Online interactions drove completion of an online survey; in-person interactions aimed at having participants complete a paper-based survey, with the alternative of completing the survey online. A total of 406 surveys were completed (229 online and 177 hardcopy). While full statistical rigour was not employed for this survey, the results are considered a good indication of community sentiment. The survey instrument is provided here.
The results of the survey, and analysis of the same, are provided in the report Community input into Guelph’s Community Energy Plan: Analysis and Interpretation of Survey Responses.
The key insights from this report are:
- Respondents wanted Guelph to have targets that lead at the provincial, national, and international level.
- Competing narratives in the survey results will need to be addressed through ongoing community outreach and awareness-building (e.g. communicate a sense of the pathway to achieving targets, to avoid a sense that this is simply a marketing tactic; communicate how the limitations of the municipal/community sphere of influence might be overcome).
- Clarify that government will not have sole responsibility for achieving targets.
- Key words describing Guelph’s ideal energy future included “renewable”, “conservation”, “clean”, “sustainable”, “affordable”, “informed”, “self-sufficient”, “inclusive”, and “local”.
- Key words describing how to achieve this future included “renewables”, “solar”, “conservation”, “information”, “investment”, and “planning”. Actionable messages included (in order of priority):
- Raise awareness
- Implement/take direct action
- Leadership in local government
- Develop partnerships
- Sustainability planning
- Make investments
- Develop incentives
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