18 May 2022

Residents will increasingly be able to engage in Christchurch City Council’s decision-making processes from the comfort of their own home.

With most people now having access to either a smartphone or a computer, the Council is moving to introduce online meeting sessions – often referred to as webinars - for public consultations on key issues.

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic many of us are now very familiar with the concept of online meetings and webinars..

“They have become a key business tool and they’re also a really effective way of reaching residents who might not otherwise have the time to engage with us,’’ says Council Head of Communications and Engagement Katy McRae.

“We trialed the use of webinars recently with our consultations on the Draft Plan Changes that are aimed at preparing Christchurch for future growth and the results were very positive.  Attendance numbers were higher than we normally get at face-to-face meetings so we plan to use online sessions more often,’’ Ms McRae says.

For example, a webinar on the housing intensification provisions in the Draft Housing and Business Choice Plan Chan attracted 141 attendees and the recording of the session drew 214 views.

People attending the online sessions need to register. When the session is on, attendees’ microphones are muted and cameras are off. However, attendees can use a number of different mechanisms, all of which are explained at the start, to ask questions.

Attendees will get a response to their questions either in writing or during the question times in the session.

The session is recorded and posted online for those who cannot attend but want to watch later.

A copy of the presentation given at the session and any questions and answers also gets posted online.

“People have busy lives and physically getting somewhere for a meeting isn’t always possible. The benefit of a webinar is that people can participate from the comfort of their own home, or they can watch at a time that suits them,’’ Ms McRae says.

“We want to reach as many people as we can, in ways that are most convenient for them. This means doing things differently from how we have approached things in the past.

“Webinars are just one new way we are looking to connect with people and encourage participation in decision-making,’’ Ms McRae says.