A BC community’s Parks and Recreation Commission determined to increase its parkland inventory with the purchase of a waterfront property. The local regional district moved a borrowing bylaw to assist in the purchase and required local elector approval. The Regional District elected to secure elector approval through a single assent vote (referendum). A communication strategy was required to provide area residents with sufficient information to make an objective and informed decision.
StarNorth established two objectives for the campaign:
- Referendum returns with at least 60% voter support for land purchase;
- Residents are provided with sufficient information to effectively determine value of land purchase to communities and impact on recreation, quality of life and economy.
StarNorth developed a communications strategy, which was subsequently approved by Commission members. Residents in several communities were identified as high-profile audiences and key messages were delivered to these audiences.
Information was delivered through various channels, including online through a website developed for the assent vote, local media and print publications delivered to targeted mail boxes.
Information on the proposed plan and accompanying Assent Vote was also delivered to a special meeting of a Homeowners Association where those attending asked specific questions about the purchase, its location and also participated by identifying other challenges. Panels were developed and printed for a presentation at a local Seniors Mobility event.
During the Assent Vote, 526 electors cast ballots, with 294 (56%) voting in favour of the borrowing bylaw and 232 (44%) in opposition.
Although the Assent Vote was closer than expected, the engagement of the community in the discussion through the exercise provided a strong foundation for continued conversation as the Commission explored options for the development and use of the properties.
The information delivered provided constituents with a clearer understanding of the development process, the opportunities it presented and the challenges and obstacles it faced.