12th Annual Municipal Communications Conference

Toronto, ON

20 - 22

12th Annual Municipal Communications Conference

For over a decade, SummersDirect Conference & Events have been bringing together municipal communications professionals from across Canada. 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, reception and optional evening delegate dinner.


Courtyard Marriot Downtown
475 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON


Conference rate of $187 plus application taxes. Book your group rate for Summers Direct: 12th Annual Municipal Communications Conference. Prices are guaranteed until October 22, 2017.

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 Reception Sponsor

Siteimprove is the only web governance software that helps you better manage and maintain your website through quality assurance, policy, accessibility, web analytics, SEO analysis, and performance response—all in one tool.

Siteimprove.com Twitter: @Siteimprove

Silver Sponsor

Digital public engagement innovators passionate about empowering organisations and the communities they care about.

Day 1

Monday Nov. 21, 2016

8:00- 8:45 a.m. 
Registration and continental breakfast

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks from The Chair
Brian Lambie, Redbrick Communications &
Media Contact, Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO)

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Lessons Learned and Successes Earned
Ivana Di Millo, Director, Communications
City of Mississauga
On June 28, 2016, at 4:22 p.m. a home on a quiet, residential street in Mississauga exploded. The explosion initially impacted nearly 800 homes in the neighbourhood that were quickly evacuated. In the hours, days and weeks following, Ivana documents lessons learned and successes earned from a Communicators role in the incident.

Delegates will hear five lessons learned through the incident as well as five successes earned by the City’s communications team. Plus, learn the role of Public Information Officer or Emergency Information Officer in an incident, where to find assistance and resources and how to manage all community partners and stakeholders.

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Building a New Intranet to Improve Employee Engagement
Hillary Verardi, Digital Media Specialist, City of Kitchener
Nicole Amaral, Manager, Digital Media & Creative Services, City of Kitchener

Intranets can have a direct impact on employee engagement, helping staff to connect with the organization’s purpose, developing cross-unit collaboration, and allowing people to become more involved. Learn how the City of Kitchener collaborated with staff to transform an outdated intranet into a social platform that encourages engagement while still delivering traditional tools.

11:15 – 12:15 a.m.
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.

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Successful communications and marketing unites hundreds worldwide
Samah Othman, Supervisor, Communications
Township of Oro-Medonte
The Story of the Oro African Church is about how a dilapidated church united hundreds Nationwide as a result of a successful communications and marketing campaign by the Township of Oro-Medonte. The campaign was launched in our efforts to secure federal and provincial funding and support, and to raise awareness to the importance of saving the church to preserve it as a National Historical Site. Our story has been shared across Canada, USA and the world.

Delegates will learn how the Township was able to engage hundreds, even thousands worldwide through a successful communications and marketing campaign; how the Township was able to influence Government opinion to secure financial support.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Creating an award-winning project from the start
Meeta Gandhi, Director of Communication Services, Town of Richmond Hill
Time to revamp your website? As you probably imagine it’s a lot of work. Staying on time and on budget is always a challenge. Engaging all the right stakeholders is key to your success. Learn about how Richmond Hill created its new, award winning website and gain insight on what’s involved in applying for industry awards including the IABC Silver Leaf award.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Managing Media, Municipal Reputation & Provocative Stories
Ann Lamanes, Communications Officer
City of Hamilton
Burlesque. Marijuana dispensaries. Body-rub parlors. Uber. Outdoor rock shows. Cities today are challenged with figuring out how to license different kinds of businesses. Some may be considered risqué but not necessarily illegal; others are illegal and local by-laws dictate appropriate enforcement. Ultimately, provocative stories make front-page news and municipal communicators need to respond.

This session will recount the tales and lessons learned of a City of Hamilton communications officer who worked on several high profile stories that pitted business owners and certain segments of the public against city by-laws. Learn some tips for managing

4:30 p.m.

4:30 – 6:00 p.m. 
Wine and Cheese Reception (cash bar)

6:00 p.m.  
Delegate dineout (optional)

Day 2

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017

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

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 
Consultation and a superfluity of nuns…
Glenna Cross, ABC, MC
President, Cross Wise Communications Ltd.
Facilitating a superfluity (group) of nuns as they faced the decisions that aging and reduced numbers forced upon them was a fascinating work and learning experience. Oddly enough there are strong and important lessons in that work for community consultation, facilitation and listening abilities – all important lessons for municipal communicators.

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.  

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
How to Conduct a Communications Audit
Cynthia Lockrey, Manager Strategic Services
Cowichan Valley Regional District
A communications audit is a snapshot in time, helping an organization assess its current communications efforts and how there effectiveness. While this can be a useful tool, it can also be overwhelming, with even the most seasoned communicators wondering where to start. This session will take you through the various steps of a communications audit with some practical real life examples.

11:15 – 12:15 p.m.
Your municipality’s new social media rockstars: city staff
Adrienne Gumz, Communications Assistant, City of Waterloo
Brandon Currie, Communications Specialist, City of Waterloo
Faced with declining returns on corporate social media activities, cities can look to their employees as a source of expanded reach and community engagement. Learn about how the City of Waterloo piloted a successful employee advocacy program and the opportunities it presents in the ever-changing world of social media.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.   

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Overcoming unsuccessful engagement to achieve consensus for a vision
Allison Jones, Communications Officer
City of Hamilton
John Ariyo, Manager, Community Initiatives
City of Hamilton
Our Future Hamilton is the city’s new 25-year community vision. Between April 2015 and April 2016, residents and community stakeholders were asked a simple question: “What is your vision for the future of Hamilton?” The priorities, hopes and dreams from nearly 55,000 people were gathered using a variety of engagement methods guided by the principles of public engagement developed by the community led Hamilton’s Engagement Committee to create the community vision. In 2016, the Hamilton’s City Council adopted the six community vision priorities into the new 10 year Strategic Plan.

In this session delegates will learn about the power that comes when you bring community engagement opportunities to the people. And what public engagement looks like when it goes very wrong – by including the very scary ‘pre-story’ of Dialogue Partners in 2013 and the city’s first attempt to ask residents about city services and how what happened guided the work of the Our Future Hamilton team.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.  
Communicating Under Fire: Lessons Learned from Controversial Fire and Paramedic Services Optimization Plan
Marie Edsall, Manager, Communications and French Services
City of Greater Sudbury
The City of Greater Sudbury presented a proposed Fire and Paramedic Optimization Plan to improve and streamline these services for the community. The most controversial recommendations were the closing of nine fire stations in rural areas, the hiring of 50 plus career firefighters, and the decrease of more than half of the 350 volunteer firefighters. Attendees will learn of the importance of internal staff engagement to the success of a project and of adapting engagement strategies to the audience. The right engagement can make or break the success of a large project, and doing it wrong can result in not only the failure of the project, but in significant impacts to the organization’s reputation, trust and credibility with residents, staff and stakeholders.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Social media during times of crisis – another tool in the toolbox
Benjamin Morgan, MA
One size does not fit all. There is no arguing the importance of social media engagement, especially during times of crisis. In this presentation, Ben reflects on his communication experiences during two of Canada’s largest natural disasters (2013 Alberta flood and 2016 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo wildfire) and the role that social media played. While it is important to appreciate the role of social media in times of crisis, it’s important to understand one size does not fit all; “Although a powerful communication tool during crisis, we must understand that social media is just one tool in the tool box”, says Ben

4:30 p.m.


Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Workshop A: The communicator at the heart of the city: Using strategic communications to achieve your city’s organizational goals
Glenna Cross, ABC, Master Communicator
Cross Wise Communications Ltd.

The proposed new vision for IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) is “a communicator at the heart of every business.” Just think about that. Are you and your team at the heart of your city? And, if not, what would it take to move in that direction?

Being at the heart means essential, life giving, totally connected to all the moving parts. Communicators are generally very well trained and equipped to plan and deliver good communications tactics in support of specific issues and/or programs. But that’s not where the magic happens.

To get to the heart, communicators need to challenge themselves to develop their business acumen and take the time to really think about how communications can help drive the big business goals. This isn’t a new idea…but when it clicks…it’s a magic thing to behold.

This interactive workshop will unearth some of the big goals that most city communicators support and through a combination of presentation and collective problem solving participants will develop strategies that can move them closer to the heart.

Participants should come prepared with knowledge of their own city’s big business goals and some ideas of how communicators can contribute to them.

Glenna’s company, Cross Wise Communications, focuses on building capacity for communicators through teaching and training, communications organizational design and structure, recruitment of communicators, definition of appropriate service offers and communications audits. Glenna has spent 20 years in communications leadership roles in the public sector, private sector and agencies. Glenna’s credentials include a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing, the first-ever Master of Communications Studies from the University of Calgary, professional accreditation (ABC) and the honorary Master Communicator designation. She is the proud winner of two IABC Gold Quill Awards of Excellence and the IABC Business Issue Award.

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Workshop B: 
Crisis and Risk Communication Planning – strategically pilot your communications through times of crisis
Benjamin Morgan, MA

An effective communication response during times of risk and crisis begins well before an event unfolds. Municipalities can be challenged by multiple areas of risk – predictable and unpredictable. Preparation begins now and begins with a plan. Identifying stakeholder groups, key areas of risk, communication channels, building key messages, and creating critical relationships are some of the elements required when building your crisis communication plan. This workshop will walk delegates through some of the foundational steps in building an effective crisis and risk communication plan.

Benjamin Morgan is a communications professional focusing on crisis communications, public relations, media relations, and social media. He has played integral communication roles during Canada’s two recent costliest natural disasters, 2013 Alberta floods and 2016 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo wildfire. He was called as an expert communication witness during the Elliott Lake mall collapse Ontario public inquiry hearing. Benjamin holds a Masters Degree of Professional Communications from Royal Roads University where his research focused on the influences of new media on crisis communication. Now, as associate faculty at RRU he instructs crisis and risk communication in both the BA and MA programs.

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 HST. 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!