11th Annual Municipal Communications Conference

Toronto, ON

21 - 23

Municipal Communications Conference

For over a decade, SummersDirect Conference & Events have been bringing together municipal communications professionals from across Canada. This year celebrates our 11th Anniversary. The agenda consists of two days of sessions where award-winning experts share case studies from municipalities across the country with a third day of two optional half-day intensive workshops. There is also an exhibition, wine and cheese and optional evening delegate dinner.


Courtyard Marriot Downtown
475 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON


Conference rate of: single $195; double $195. For reservations please call 1.800.847.5075. Please identify yourself as being with the SummersDirect Inc. group when making or amending the reservation. Prices are guaranteed until October 20, 2016

Presenting Sponsor

CivicLive provides industry-leading communication and engagement solutions that empower governments to better serve their citizens. Our fully-customized, responsive websites are built on our award-winning CMS platform with extensive government-specific tools and functionalities to serve your community, enhance citizen experience, and market your municipality as a vibrant place to visit, do business, and call home. CivicLive’s portfolio of eGovernment solutions also includes a robust mass notification system that is trusted by governments across North America for citizen engagement, staff notifications and emergency messages and alerts. To learn more, please visit www.civiclive.com.


Silver Sponsors

Municipal World


Day 1

Monday Nov. 21, 2016

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks from The ChairBrian Lambie

8:45 – 10:00 a.m.
Fort McMurray Wild Fires – Stories from the Trenches

Jordan Redshaw Press Secretary, Communications & Stakeholder Relations, Regional Municipality of
Wood Buffalo

Robin Smith, Press Secretary, Communications & Stakeholder Relations, Regional Municipality of
Wood Buffalo

Tara Shand, Communications Team Lead, City of Red Deer

Canada and the rest of the world watched as wildfire threatened the northern city of Fort McMurray, the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, in the biggest natural disaster in Canadian history. A community of almost 90,000 people were evacuated to safety as they feared for their lives, their community and their homes. Fortunately, not one life was lost as a direct result of the fire and citizens began the return to their homes and lives five weeks later.

On this panel, hear from Jordan Redshaw, the voice behind @RMWoodBuffalo, who accidentally became a media story himself, Robin Smith who coordinated the national media strategy and developed the signs and slogans that became synonymous with the fire, and Tara Shand, a communicator from Red Deer who was a former member of the community who jumped in to help. You’ll hear what happened behind the scenes to keep the community and the world informed of what was happening during the crisis.

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.
Networking Refreshment Break

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Prioritizing the Demands of A Municipal Three-ring Circus

Marina Grassi
Supervisor, Corporate Communications, City of Guelph

Katherine Gray
Business Performance Specialist, City of Guelph

Today’s municipal communicators are expected to do more and be more—juggling the demands of what can feel like a three-ring circus. Experts agree the best way to manage a heavy workload is to prioritize. The City of Guelph is using a simple new process to do just that while increasing employee engagement and providing better service internally—without having to learn the latest flying trapeze act.

Delegates will learn how to:
• address a gap in tools/processes among municipal 
communications shops
• create a prioritization tool
• increase employee engagement
• provide better service to internal departments

11:15 – 12:15 p.m.
Interactive Discussion Groups

Delegates will break into small groups and share their own experiences in what works and what doesn’t work in communications. Delegates will walk away with numerous case studies and a best practice list.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
Networking Luncheon

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Using Video to Battle Fentanyl Use

Andrea Ravensdale, Communications Manager, County of Wellington

Lisa MacEachern, Pharmacist, Guelph Family Health Team

Adrienne Crowder, Manager, Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy

Scott Lawson, Ontario Provincial Police Inspector

Fentanyl has become the leading
 cause of opioid deaths in Ontario 
for the first time since Canada’s
 prescription painkiller crisis
 began more than a decade ago.
 Fentanyl is 100 x more powerful 
than morphine and 50 x more 
powerful than heroin. In 2014, the
 Wellington-Guelph Drug Strategy 
(WGDS) created a short online video urging local pharmacies to adapt the Fentanyl Patch-for-Patch Program. This program had been a great success in the City of North Bay and the WGDS set out to try to make it a local success as well.

The WGDS video was sent to every MPP in Ontario in the fall
 of 2014, and coincided with Nipissing MPP, Vic Fedeli’s private members bill called the Safeguarding Our Communities Act (Fentanyl Patch for Patch Return Policy). In December 2015,
all three parties passed the bill. This presentation will provide the points of view of a pharmacist, an OPP Inspector, a Drug Strategy Manager and the communications strategy behind the success of this video.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Walking the Talk: How Action and Communication Build a Strong Employee Culture

Colleen Collins, Manager, Corporate Communications & Marketing, City of Kitchener

Victoria Raab, Director, Corporate Communications & Marketing, City of Kitchener

In 2016, The City of Kitchener
undertook it’s fourth workplace 
culture survey. This session 
will cover the city’s journey in
measuring culture and engagement
 – from the high of an unprecedented response rate and engagement in 2007, to a significant drop in both in the 2012 follow up survey. Hear how those results were a catalyst that led to the development of a cultural “People Plan”, as well as corporate and divisional action plans to improve engagement and re-ignite staff passion and engagement in their work. Did these efforts work? Hear what the results of Kitchener’s 2016 survey had to say . . . hot off the press!

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.
Refreshment Break

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Tips for Building Useable Websites

Padraig O’Shea, Senior Project Director, CivicLive

A website is only as good as the user experience it offers. But, how do you know whether your website is designed for optimal user experience or not? In this session, The CivicLive team will share the anatomy of a user-centered government website and its benefits for the community, from legal (accessibility) compliance to enhanced site visitor satisfaction. Attendees will receive practical tips, examples and best practices for website design and content that will help them help their users find the information they’re looking for.

Conference Concludes for the Day

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Wine and Cheese Reception (Cash Bar)

6:00 p.m.
Delegates Dinner (Optional)

For those who just don’t want the day to end! Meet your colleagues in the lobby and explore Toronto and dine together. We will email you ahead of time for sign up to ensure the groups are not too big and we can help with reservations.

Day 2

Tuesday Nov. 22, 2016

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.
Registration and continental breakfast.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
ENGAGEKITCHENER – Expanding citizen engagement into the digital world

Josh Joseph
Community Engagement Consultant
City of Kitchener

The City of Kitchener recently
launched a new online citizen 
engagement platform. This session will focus on how they managed to get the budget and staff resources approved, how they worked with multiple partners in a two-tier environment on a joint agreement, and the development of a policy and
staff guidelines for community engagement. Hear how they blend traditional and new digital tools to best involve citizens in decisions that affect them.

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.
Networking refreshment break.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Best Practice Exchange

Delegates will break into small groups and share their own experiences in what works and what doesn’t work in communications. Delegates will walk away with numerous case studies and a best practice list.

11:15 – 12:15 p.m.
Social Media – When You Unexpectedly Become A Target – Lessons Learned

Meeta Gandhi, Director of Communication Services
Town of Richmond Hill

After many years without incident, 
Richmond Hill recreation program 
names became the target of negative comments that went viral via social media overnight. What seemed like an unprovoked non-issue to internal clients, quickly became a bigger issue 
as traditional media picked up the story. Understanding the power of social media to impact your reputation is key, but so is educating the clients you serve. Come and hear about the lessons learned by this municipality so you can be prepared for what could come your way without advance warning.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
Networking luncheon

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
MyAirdrie Brings City Hall to You

Sarah Kucharski, Communications Advisor
City of Airdrie

In 2014 the City of Airdrie launched 
MyAirdrie, an online service
 designed to offer customer
 payment opportunities that met City Council’s strategic priority of increasing the City’s web-based transaction options for citizens and businesses and the City’s corporate priority of providing responsive customer service. MyAirdrie allowed citizens and businesses to pay bills online, apply for building permits, business and dog license renewals and more – if we could raise awareness of the service and create a desire in the audience to use the service. This session will take you through the Gold Quill Excellence Award winning communications program for Airdrie’s MyAirdrie service.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Game on! 2015 Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games – Communications from the host city perspective  

Wynna Brown, Manager, Media Relations & Issues Management
City of Toronto

The 2015 Pan American/Parapan 
American Games provided Toronto
 with more than an international sport event. The Games also showcased Toronto’s culture and connected its many diverse and unique communities. The initiatives created through 
the Host City Showcase Program supported the city’s goals in areas such as economic development and tourism, sport development and healthy living, resident engagement and cultural celebration.

Working with Games partners, the City’s communications efforts began in earnest mid-2012, and continued to gain momentum as the Games approached and finally took over the city in a blaze of civic pride and enthusiasm throughout the summer of 2015.

Learn about and discuss the communications planning
and execution from the Host City perspective, including collaboration with partners, strategic positioning, media and digital strategy, crisis communications planning, and Games- time operations.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.
Networking refreshment break.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Driving the Conversation on Roundabouts

Jill Noble, Senior Communications Consultant
City of Red Deer

Amara Heppell
Communications Consultant
City of Red Deer

Some people love them, 
some people hate them, but 
roundabouts have arrived in Red
 Deer. In 2016, The City of Red Deer 
built and opened two two-lane
 roundabouts on major arterial 
roadways – the first of their kind in Red Deer and Central Alberta. Dubbed the “double-double”, both roundabouts also happened to be on the same road. From construction impacts to opposition to roundabouts, communications played a critical role in building and maintaining support for the projects. Through initial research we knew support for roundabouts was about 50 per cent and that most residents believed they knew how to use roundabouts but were worried about “the other guy”. Learn how we built on this research to develop
and implement a successful public education strategy and campaign to increase support for the use of roundabouts and teach drivers, cyclists and pedestrians how to safely use them.

4:30 p.m.
Chair’s closing remarks and conference concludes


Wednesday Nov. 23, 2016

Workshop A:

8:30- 12:00 p.m.
Integrating Crisis Communications with Business Contunuity and Emergency Response

Brian P. Miller
Certified Business Continuity Professional, Certified Business Continuity Lead Auditor Partner, Vanguard EMC Inc.

Effective communications can be a challenge during the high intensity of an emergency situation if the communications strategy is not integrated with emergency management and business continuity at the strategic level. Communications practitioners must be able work in concert with the emergency management team to effectively support the executives in formulating the appropriate crisis communications strategy that meets the needs of all stakeholders affected during a crisis. Interruptions to time-critical municipal service delivery resulting from an emergency can alter the perception of clients and ratepayers. This workshop will provide hands on opportunities and explore the steps involved in integrating effective crisis communications with emergency management activities.

Brian Miller is a Partner at Vanguard EMC Inc., a thriving consultancy delivering best practice guidance for all aspects of emergency management and business continuity to government and enterprise clients throughout Canada. Brian is a certified business continuity professional, a certified DRI instructor as well as a certified lead auditor. Prior to founding Vanguard EMC in 2001, Brian was the Director of Emergency Management and Business Continuity at Bell Canada for 12 years. He has extensive experience and leadership in business continuity, emergency management, telecommunications and labour relations.

Workshop B:

1:00- 4:00 p.m.
Strategies for Successful Public Engagement – Improving Participation, Process and Product

Edward Nixon
Managing Partner EN Consulting Group Enconsulting.ca

In this interactive session you will learn key strategies and lessons learned to help enhance your current consultation and engagement activities. Edward will focus on three key areas:

Participation – How do we communicate and recruit participation? How do we advertise and to whom considering the realities of budget, mandate and time. And if we are missing key stakeholder’s participation, how do we refine our approach to be inclusive?

Process – Capturing the full range of views is a challenge in any public engagement. We will look at common meeting processes and explore ways to improve these to get a full range of views. We will also examine how we frame “what’s on the table” and what is not. Participants will be asked to share their experiences: what works and what hasn’t. Building from these shared experiences, the workshop will examine ways to expand our process tool kit and improve the consultative experience.

Product – We engage. We listen. We record. All good and necessary. Can we improve the “product” of public consultations? This section of the workshop suggests that we can by ensuring our processes are guided by transparent and tangible outcomes. We will also look at how we report on consultation and how this can be improved. Looking at examples from marketing and social research, the workshop will ask participants to reflect on and refine approaches to reporting.

Edward Nixon is the Managing Partner of EN Consulting Group a boutique public outreach practice in Toronto. Edward has over twenty- five years of experience in a variety community His work as part of the People’s Queen Street initiative was recognized with a Vital Innovation Award from the Toronto Community Foundation in 2014. Edward has led public engagement projects with clients such as: the Bloor East Neighbourhood Association, Castlepoint Numa, the City of Toronto, Cityzen Development Group, Go Transit, and 3 Lakeshore Inc. among many others. In 2009/10 he served as a Senior Advisor, Stakeholder Relations to the Deputy Premier of Ontario.


Cancellation & Refund Policy

Substitution of delegates is permissible without prior notification. Refunds will be given for cancellations received in writing no later than 10 days prior to the conference date subject to an administration fee of $200 plus $26 for GST. After this time, you are liable for the full registration fee even if you do not attend the conference. If you register during this 10 day period, you are also liable for the full fee. SummersDirect Inc. reserves the right to change program date, meeting place or content without further notice and assumes no liability for these changes.

SummersDirect is a conference planning company that sets itself apart from the rest with a focus on customer service and value. We are fresh and we’re creative. We have the expertise and knowhow but most importantly,we offer you a quality product for a cost that fits within your budget.

We listen to you. You want quality speakers. You want tools and techniques that you can take away and use. You want case studies that you can relate to and learn from. You want engaging speakers and topics to motivate you! You want value. And that’s what we give you!

You are important to us. We don’t want you as a one-time delegate. We want to build a relationship. We want you to come back again next year. Let us know what you think. We want to hear from you. Contact us today!