To the editor,
If HRM wants diversity at its consultations, it has to go to where diversity resides. Take the Bloomfield Centre, for example. The tenants of this centre and the citizens in the surrounding neighbourhood represent a tremendous diversity. The Imagine Bloomfield Society represents a diverse group of citizens interested in community-building that supports and reflects community needs and a future vision of a dynamic community centre—which sounds like a really good fit with the mandate of HRMbyDESIGN.
Meetings and events at the Bloomfield Centre almost always include participants from several income levels, with disabilities, from several age categories, from different areas of HRM as well as the local neighbourhood, and generally the crowd is not racially homogeneous.
Unfortunately, the society and the remaining centre tenants feel HRM doesn't share their vision or wish to collaborate on reinventing it and would rather empty it, so these citizens are distrustful of HRM's consultations.
Imagine Bloomfield recently held two visioning sessions at the centre and the process and organizations involved encompassed the very diversity that HRM consultations seem to be lacking. So the answer for HRM staff might be twofold: 1) Engage the public where they live and on topics and issues they are concerned with and maybe the public will engage with HRM's official issues. 2) Try working with the community to help it achieve its goals and it might help HRM achieve its goals—even though they should be one and the same as well as citizen-driven.
By Keith McPhail