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Whenever municipal staff are moving forward with a capital project or a masterplan, a critical component of the process is the input from the public. Past practice has been to book a meeting room in City Hall, advertise the event, set up display panels, recur city staff to man the stations and roll out the coffee and cookies table. Then patiently wait for the public to come out in droves. However, it usually ends up with a small dribble of people who have an axe to grind on the project. So where is the silent majority who support the project and how do you secure their input.

So, when you are asking people what it would take to get out of their car and onto a bike, City of Victoria Transportation staff took up the challenge themselves and decided to hit the road to their first open house…by bike.

Open houses are designed to be interactive and educational and staff try to pop-up in neighbourhoods across the city.  Their aim to “go to where the people are” and we generally bring a lot of stuff with them. Picture: handouts, buttons, a survey box, three easels, a canister for the biking map, a small folding table, a trivia spinning wheel and three display boards.  Insert: A bike trailer.

With the trailer in hand, a few bungy cords and a new cheery orange safety flag, it was time to start packing.  Most of the supplies did fit.  However, the colorful trivia wheel was deemed a bit too large for a first trip and the display boards were a few inches to wide but generally it all fit.

Social media was used to promote the open houses and provide feedback to the public on the results.

Several very successful pop-up meetings were held in various neighborhoods with input from cycling users, pedestrians and adjacent neighbors. Staff set an excellent example reducing their carbon footprint and showing that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved, which lead to a broader community involvement.

The City of Victoria is currently working to update the Bicycle Master Plan.  Victoria’s first ever Bicycle Master Plan was created in 1995 and has guided the development of Victoria’s cycling infrastructure since then.  The updated Bicycle Master Plan will consider changes that have occurred in Victoria over the last 19 years, including a growing interest in cycling, an expanded regional cycling network, plans for future growth and new regional and City plans and policies. More information on the process and project can be found at www.victoria.ca/cycling.

Dwayne Kalynchuk

Director of Public Works & Engineering City of Victoria

Retired