Citizen Planning Circle: Effective Use of Rural Broadband
In April, 2014, thirteen residents of Olds, Alberta from diverse incomes, ages, backgrounds and experiences came together to participate in a Citizen Planning Circle (Planning Circle) to provide their input as citizens about the future of broadband internet for their community. The Centre for Public Involvement (CPI) designed the Planning Circle to provide an intentional opportunity for residents to deliberate about a key topic that the community of Olds identified as a priority, for future development.
Through a carefully facilitated process, participants grappled with the best use of broadband for their community, and how to make the best use of high-capacity internet to support economic, social, and cultural development.
Participants of the Planning Circle shared their ideas and developed action proposals that could contribute positively to the Town of Olds and Province of Alberta as it moves forward in future development and planning of high-speed broadband in rural communities.
The Citizen Planning Circle was implemented through a partnership between Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD), the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OCRD) and CPI. This innovative engagement process provided a unique opportunity for meaningful citizen involvement and allowed participants to weigh the value, and examine the many ways to “do” broadband, both at an individual and a community level.
“The province of Alberta, and Olds in particular, is leading the country in exploring the potential for broadband to further rural economic development. There is great expertise in Olds that is especially relevant to rural Alberta but applicable to rural areas across the globe”
– Patricia Macklin, Project Coordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development