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Committee optimistic about engagement on makeup of council

The committee will get a full look at the three-week public engagement survey period during its meeting on March 5.
Council composition committee chair Rebecca Johnson addresses the meeting at Thunder Bay City Hall on Tuesday, February 6, 2024

THUNDER BAY – Members of the council composition committee are optimistic that more Thunder Bay residents will offer their thoughts on the makeup of city council.

In Tuesday's meeting, city staff presented the numbers of those who responded to the three-week public engagement survey period both online and in person.

Nearly 700 respondents have been counted so far - with 513 submissions coming through the Get Involved Thunder Bay page.

Committee member Wayne Bahlieda was disappointed with the numbers.

“When you think of it from a logical perspective, we have a population of 110,000. This is an important decision in terms of democracy,” Bahlieda said after the Feb. 6 meeting.

“When looking at the social and economic elements of a decision like this, I was just hoping that there would have been a greater turn out.”

The committee has six members, which includes chair Rebecca Johnson, vice-chair Cody Fraser - along with members Bahlieda, Heather McLeod, Riley Burton, and Carlos Santander-Maturana.

“I know that staff worked very hard and diligently to ensure that there was a survey available to everyone. They advertised it and had pop up sessions for people to fill out surveys. They did everything they could," Bahlieda said.

Johnson added while it would be nice to have everyone respond to these surveys, it’s also not a realistic goal.

“We are finding out that a lot of people in the community didn’t even know that this was being undertaken and they're not engaged. They don't know anything about it so how do we get that out?” Johnson asked.

“To receive approximately 700 surveys is quite significant. Based on my own knowledge of previous surveys, this is a good representation from the community and it will give us a very good flair as to what people think in the community.”

Staff are still working through the surveys after the engagement period closed on Sunday.

“There is no question that the public is starting to get engaged with the whole area of looking at the composition of council,” Johnson said, when asked about the responses that she heard during the engagement process.

“There is a mixture of ideas from the community, but we don’t yet have the analysis of what came back. That makes it very difficult to get into the specifics right now.”

The committee’s next meeting, which will lay out the results of the survey, is scheduled for March 5.

A final report from the committee on the composition of council is slated for completion in advance of the 2026 municipal election.


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