Halton Hills Community Energy Plan Rant

So a little while back, it looked like the city that I live in was interested in the opinions of the people living here and set up an IdeaScale board for submissions relating to a Halton Hills community energy plan. IdeaScale, for those of you that don’t know is like your own private voting area. Users can submit ideas, comment on them and vote them up or down. I submitted my fair share of ideas, commented on others, and continued to interact with the site. My hope was that the opinions would be validated, and that the interaction would be of benefit.

Unfortunately, after a few weeks, the board was shut down. The ideas were removed, and without warning, everything was replaced with a brief message that linked to a page that links back to the IdeaScale board that they shut down. Here’s the message listed on their board:

Thank you for your ideas! They will help shape the Mayor’s Community Energy Plan. The Halton Hills IdeaScale webpage is now closed. However, everyone is encouraged to continue to share their ideas through a brief online survey. Please visit: Online survey

For more information on the Mayor’s Community Energy Plan, please visit: Mayor’s Community Energy Plan website

All of that effort, mine and others was just deleted. They could have listed the ideas people proposed, and had someone from the city comment on them. They could have found a way to archive the information, but instead they just deleted it all. Who does that?

I know that the government isn’t good at social media. I get that they don’t really understand how to interact with the people. The thing that bothers me is that the entire role of government is to serve the masses. I feel like I wasted time. I feel like my opinions didn’t matter. I feel frustrated and I didn’t have to. Damian Szybalski, Sustainability Coordinator for Halton Hills should be ashamed. The Community Energy Plan website is unreadable and completely useless for anyone without a city planning degree. It links to PDF’s and looks like something from the late 90’s.

And don’t get me started on the compiled data. It isn’t friendly or easy to understand at all. The modern web being what it is, shouldn’t data be presented in a way that the average person in the city can understand it?

One of the biggest ideas I left in the IdeaScale website for Halton Hills was to compile and present easy to understand information. How can we know if we are doing better as a community if we don’t understand where we currently are, and in what areas we are failing to meet goals or standards? How can we celebrate successes when we don’t have any real milestones?

It is a shame that they removed the ideas before the IdeaScale board really got any major traction. It is a shame that they didn’t keep the ideas posted there in an archive on their own site. It is a shame that they didn’t work to validate the efforts of the community members that took time to post, comment and vote. It is a shame that the city has done nothing to really connect with its constituents.

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