Citizens Agenda Project

What happens when you ask Calgarians how to make the city healthy, vibrant and sustainable?

You get more than 1,000 people working together discussing, debating and deciding how to build a city for everyone. The result is the Citizens’ Agenda – 12 Priority Policy & Action goals.

The Citizens’ Agenda – 12 Priority Policy & Action Goals

  1. A Living Wage is guaranteed for all Calgarians.
  2. Community-Oriented Development – living close to work and services – is the standard in all new and established communities and plans.
  3. Transit Spending – a minimum of 65% of the transportation budget is spent on transit, walking, wheeling, and biking.
  4. Affordable Housing – zoning is implemented so that 15% of housing stock in all communities is affordable.
  5. A 100% Renewable Energy Strategy is developed for Calgary.
  6. Sustainable Education is part of the core curriculum for grades K-12.
  7. Transit-Oriented Development is mandated with minimum densities of 14-20 units per acre throughout Calgary.
  8. Green Buildings  – standards are established for commercial, public and residential construction in the city.
  9. Sustainable Economic Diversification – a strategy focusing on sustainability and diversification is implemented
  10. A Foreign Professional Accreditation – a program is implemented by the City of Calgary to hasten accreditation and success.
  11. Preventative and Primary Health Care – an increase in the CRHA Health Care Budget from 3.6% to 10% in these areas.
  12. Zero-Waste – a strategy is developed for Calgary to become a 100% zero-waste city.

The Process

The project began with the publishing of the 2004 “State of Our City” report in March, 2005. The findings of the report and the Citizens’ Agenda project vision were presented to a wide range of non-profit organizations. from the Chamber of Commerce to The Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre. Through the outreach activities individuals were invited to consider their participation in the Citizens’ Agenda project. In July, the first meeting of the Project Steering Committee and a Policy Experts Advisory Group took place.

The Steering Committee was made up of individuals with process design and facilitation expertise and experience. This Committee guided the project design, assist in the recruitment of citizens into the process and facilitate project working groups and workshops. The Policy Advisors were individuals with experience in the policy-making process. This group provided advice and assistance to the citizens who will be engaged in the creation of the Citizens’ Agenda.

The Result

The Citizens’ Agenda was originally supported by funding from Tides Canada, The Calgary Foundation, The United Way of Calgary and Area, and The Arusha Centre. Phase Two of the project was sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, The Alberta EcoTrust and the United Way of Calgary and Area are the sponsors.

The project proceeded through six stages:

  1. Policy mapping to identify existing policy-design to use as the starting point for our deliberations.
  2. Municipal Policy-Making 101. Recognizing that policy is a fuzzy concept for most citizens, the project, in collaboration with The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, hosted a municipal policy-making 101 symposium and workshop in the first week of October. 
  3. Indicator workshops. In October and November, 2005 several working groups were formed with the goal of assessing the implications of the “State of Our City” reports and identifying a preliminary list of priority policies and actions that addressed the issues raised by the reports. The sector working groups were formed through an open invitation to citizens and were facilitated by members of the project steering committee. The sector and indicator working groups met four times through October and into early November.
  4. City-wide workshops. The sector working groups involved a limited number of individuals. Our past experience demonstrated that in order to engage a wider spectrum of citizens, other strategies were needed. The action workshops, which took place in January, 2006 were held in each quadrant of the city and hosted by a local organization, for example a community association or local resource centre. Each was a one-day event designed to give the findings from the sector workshops to a wider group of citizens. 
  5. Special sectors workshops. Experience in public processes demonstrates that despite good intentions, structural inequalities in our society mean that marginalized or specially challenged groups and individuals face difficulties having their voices heard. In order to be as inclusive as possible, the Citizens’ Agenda project hosted special sector workshops in October and November, 2005. These workshops were designed to meet the special needs of individuals at risk of being excluded from the process. The workshops focused on accessibility, design and timing to ensure the participation of special sectors. 
  6. Final Plenary. The Final Plenary was held in the first week of February, 2006. The goal of the symposium was to make the final selection of policy and action priorities to be included in the “Citizens’ Agenda” report. In making the final decision, the sector working group members considered the preliminary priorities and actions, and the input from the city quadrant action workshops and from the special sectors workshops. This symposium included representation from the special sectors and the city quadrant workshops. The “Citizens’ Agenda” was published in spring, 2007.

The relationship of the Citizens’ Agenda to ImagineCalgary

ImagineCalgary is a city-led process designed to engage Calgarians in the creation of a 100-year vision for our city. The Citizens’ Agenda was designed as an independent citizens process but with the view that it was complementary to ImagineCalgary. Sustainable Calgary made an effort to meet regularly with the ImagineCalgary team. The Citizens’ Agenda was presented to the ImagineCalgary team in the winter of 2006.