University wholly committed to community consultation
In an effort to better ensure transparency and information flow, university officials renewed the institution’s commitment to enhance dialogue with its neighbours during a regular bimonthly meeting with the University of Alberta Consultation Committee held on South Campus Sept. 14.
Representatives from the 10 communities that neighbour the U of A heard the university relations team outline a list of five commitments designed to better engage communities in the consultation process.
Besides renewing the university’s participation in the formal consultation meetings that have been held five to six times per year, Anastasia Lim, executive director, university relations, said the university will meet with the presidents of each community league, hold individual community meetings to discuss specific issues as necessary, create smaller working groups to address specific concerns that involve the university within a given community, and hold two open houses in the fiscal year.
“We want to enhance the consultative process and have better relationships and community engagement with the surrounding communities,” said Lim. “We want be able ask, ‘what’s going on in your community, where can we share information and how do we work together?’”
Lim says transparency will be at the core of community outreach.
“Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to do everything the communities suggest—that is just a reality of the university’s growth—but we are open to discussion and open to considering ideas brought to the table,” said Lim. “We do take into consideration feedback and ideas from open houses, surveys and focus groups.”
Lim says that the university needs the capacity and infrastructure to support institutional and provincial goals and measure the public’s expectations that the U of A will continue to be a top teaching and research institution while helping to advance the capital region.
“Planned growth and development helps us attract further talent, whether it be students, faculty, staff or researchers, which is so important as we advance in our mission and work to meet the future needs of the province and its citizens,” she said.
To further open lines of communication with community stakeholders, Lim says the U of A is also working on making the university’s community relations web presence more user-friendly and client-focused, while ensuring information is readily available and accessible. She says the university also wants to encourage the surrounding communities to participate in university events beyond the realm of development. Lim says she hopes the outcome of the U of A’s renewed commitment to consultation is greater trust.
“Ultimately, we are neighbours and we want to maintain good neighbour relations,” said Lim. “I believe an open dialogue is key to that.”
The UACC was created in 1999 and is made up of a maximum of two members from each of the university’s 10 neighbouring communities—Malmo Plains, Lansdowne, Grandview, Garneau, Windsor Park, McKernan, Belgravia, Parkallen, Lendrum and Bonnie Doon. Delegates from the university and the committee members meet bimonthly as a way for university and to community leaders to engage in dialogue about current and future development and to exchange information about what is happening in the communities.