Haldimand County has been holding ‘Public Engagement Sessions’ to gather citizen input into its Parks & Recreation Service Plan update. I have attendance figures for three of the five sessions: only 18, 15 and 13 citizens.

However, the views of the 45,000+ citizens of Haldimand County who did not attend a public engagement session can still be taken into account. The survey is available online until March 16, accessible through a link on the County’s homepage: haldimandcounty.on.ca.

This may or may not be good news. Much of the ‘public input’ the County used to justify the construction of its expensive new administration building was just this sort of anonymous online input, and the number of online respondents was suspiciously similar to the number of people who will enjoy the luxury of working in the new building. It would be a shame if the number of anonymous online respondents to the Parks & Recreation survey resembled the number of people who make their living through the Parks & Recreation department.

The only way to make sure that doesn’t happen is for citizens to respond massively. The survey is interesting, but it is not limited to simple multiple-choice questions. Citizens should allow half an hour to complete it, and they might find it easier to respond in small groups so that they can talk over their ideas before finalizing their answers.

As a citizen of Cayuga, I know what it feels like to have the County make major changes to your community without asking your opinion. So now that they’ve asked, speak up! You have until March 16.

David McClung