Since 2006 we have conducted community discussions around community visioning, poverty, mental health, housing and ‘life on the street’ issues.
Since 2009, we have conducted innovative all-candidate election meetings at municipal, provincial and federal level. We have employed a ‘reverse’ format, which provides an opportunity for all the candidates to listen to the concerns and suggestions from people in Nelson related to key social issues. During the 2018 municipal election, we partnered with Nelson Public Library to present a ‘candi-dating’ format, based on traditional speed dating, where people were able to hold one-on-one conversations with the candidates.
We continue to explore partnerships and opportunities around discussing and addressing current and emerging public issues.
2018 Municipal Election ‘Candi-dating’ and Election Forum
For the 2018 municipal election, we created a ‘candi-dating’ format, based on traditional speed dating, similar to the event the Nelson Public Library conducted for the 2014 municipal election. Participants signed up for conversation slots with the candidates. Each round of conversation lasted three minutes. Participants who were not able to book slots were permitted to be silent observers of the conversations.
The sign-up board was fully filled within a short time, and many of the speed dates had numerous people listening in to the conversation. Some people arrived with prepared questions, while others struck up a conversation with the candidate, then moved into issues and concerns. It was a full, active evening with candidates and voters both appreciating the less formal format which led to some candid conversation.
After a brief break, everyone gathered to hear candidates respond to questions, drawn randomly, reflecting the broad spectrum of quality-of-life issues.
This is a format we plan to follow again for the 2022 municipal election—and we are now strongly considering an annual ‘Council-dating’ event between elections to allow citizens and elected Council and Mayor to check in around key concerns.