15th Annual Municipal Communications Conference


Nov 25

15th 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  intensive workshops. There is also an virtual trade show with virtual networking!

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!

Thank you to our sponsors:



Day 1

Buy the replay of day one for $149.00 CAD
Please note, does not include “The Importance of Effective Communication”

Monday, Nov. 23, 2020

All times in Eastern

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.   Welcome and Trade Show Opens
9:30 – 9:40 a.m.  Brian Lambie, Redbrick Communications &
Media Contact, Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO)

Opening Remarks from the Chair
9:40 – 10:40 a.m Isabelle LeBlanc, Director, Corporate Communications, City of Moncton, NB

Felicia Wiltshire, Director, Customer Service & Communications, City of Winnipeg, MB

Ivana Di Millo, Director, Strategic Communications, City of Mississauga, ON

COVID Communications Panel

Here from communications directors across Canada about their COVID Comms strategies as cities relaunch and try and balance COVID response with regular business operations. Hear tips, tricks, and lessons learned. This is a session you don’t want to miss!

10:40 – 11:20 a.m. Craig Hemingway
Communications Manager
City of Moose Jaw

The Business of Construction Communication

In 2017 a major infrastructure project in a Moose Jaw business corridor “went sideways”. Affected business owners blamed lack of communication from the City as a contributing factor. Three years later, find out how a suite of communications tactics are helping the City of Moose Jaw avoid history repeating itself.

11:20 – 11:45 a.m.  NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW
11:45 – 12:25 p.m. Felicia Wiltshire, Director, Customer Service & Communications, City of Winnipeg, MB

Our City, Our Stories

“We need a press release.”

“Why don’t you ever tell people about the good things we do?”

These are phrases communicators hear every single day. After spending endless time trying to explain that getting out “good news” wasn’t just about issuing another press release or putting out more facebook posts, we put together a plan for “Our City, Our Stories” (OCOS). OCOS was a place where we could shape and frame our own stories using a combination of video, photos, and written content, at a very minimal cost to the City. The launch of OCOS exceeded our expectations and has now become one of our go-to items in our communications tool box that even media use to help tell their stories.


12:25 – 12:35 p.m. Yoga Break Join our yoga instructor Carmen for 10 minutes of chair/desk yoga!
1:05 – 1:45 p.m. Cynthia Lockrey, Lockrey Communications, BC

Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in Municipal Communications

Storytelling is the best way to make a personal connection and have people tune in to what you’re saying. While this communications tool can elevate a communications strategy, it is often forgotten or overlooked. In this session, learn how to create impactful stories about local government services and programs (yes, it’s possible) to use in your social media, presentations, web pages, newsletters and more.

1:45 – 2:25 p.m. Amelia Reigstad, Ph.D. , Effective Communication Consultant & Coach, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

The Importance of Effective Communication – How to Communicate More Effectively and Increase Productivity in the Workplace

Have you ever found workplace communication challenging or wondered why colleagues communicate differently? Using real-life scenarios and examples, professionals will explore insights they can apply to communication challenges within the workplace. By being aware of personality traits, gender and differences in communication styles, professionals will be more productive, accountable, cohesive, connected and have the ability to communicate more effectively. Improving communication in the workplace positively impacts business operations and team performance.

Key Take-Away’s

When professionals don’t communicate effectively or understand each other’s styles and personality traits, challenges arise and overall productivity decreases. By understanding the significant differences and communication styles, professionals will learn how effective communication leads to a better workplace environment – ultimately improving employee engagement and efficiency.

2:45 – 3:25 p.m. Ruby Gill, (Digital Marketing & Communications Strategist) Nikita, Marketing Communications

Linda Bilben, Chief Strategist & Educator, Ink & Air Communication Corp

5 Step Guide to Building A Municipal Strategic Communications Plan Incorporating First Nations

With Canada prioritizing Truth and Reconciliation efforts across Canada, Indigenous communities are playing a bigger part in today’s society whether it’s economic development, tourism, or bridging the gap. This session will provide insight into how to help Indigenous communication teams work through the top principals on creating a successful strategy.  Hear insights into the unique challenges of communications for Indigenous communities from this duo have worked with various First Nation Communities in BC with experience working with regional planning for Alberta and BC municipalities.

3:45 p.m.  Conference Concludes for Day  
Day 2

Buy access to day two for $149.00

Includes all sessions listed below

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

All times are in Eastern

9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Tradeshow Open
9:30 – 9:40 a.m.  Opening Remarks
9:40 – 10:20 a.m. Michèle Newton, Director
Konvo Media


Parm Chohan
CQ.M Change Agents

Culturally Competent Communications

A one-style-fits-all approach to communications and engagement is neither effective nor meaningful to your diverse community members. Communicating with a multi-cultural community takes deliberate effort and skill, wrapped in both compassion and empathy.

Stepping out of the typical mono-culture approach, you will learn how to engage and communicate in ways that resonate with different cultures; avoid appearing to just pay lip service; and make truly inclusive connections.

10:20 – 11:00 a.m. Linda Filippi, Manager, Project Communications

Laura Black, Project Manager, Communications
York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (York Region)

Transforming a Community… and the hurdles to jump along the way

(Projects have taken place throughout York Region, including Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Newmarket)

Everyone likes the idea of beautiful streets and upgraded infrastructure, but nobody likes demolitions, tree removals or ongoing construction! Hear a story of breaking new ground in communicating over 30 kilometres of full street construction projects, and learn the benefits we gained along the way that helped with challenges.

11:20 – 12:00 p.m. Rebecca Sutherns, PhD CPF, Principal and CEO
Sage Solutions, Guelph, ON

Engaging Online Facilitation

The need for masterful virtual facilitation skills is higher than ever before. This course will enhance both parts of that equation: facilitating skillfully and doing so using virtual platforms. Participants will leave with greater confidence and specific skills to help groups collaborate digitally in ways that are participatory and productive.

12:00 – 12:40 p.m. Michelle Rickard, Communications Officer
City of Guelph, ON

A community celebration: Getting the media to tell your story

A strategic approach to media relations is crucial to building mutually beneficial and trusting relationships with news media. Such relationships help foster accurate, balanced and fair reporting; help allow an organization to convey information through media to stakeholders; increase positive coverage; and protect and enhance the organization’s reputation.

In this session, hear how this approach was successfully demonstrated through the City of Guelph’s award-winning Victoria Road Recreation Centre grand reopening media relations strategy, which focused on proactively seeking out media opportunities and earning media coverage to attract community members to the grand reopening event.

Walking through the creation of a media coverage plan, learn what strategies and tools exist to earn free media in your community and why the media is the best way to target your primary audience.

1:10 – 2:00 p.m. Alyssa BerryOwner/Principal, Alyssa Berry Communications
Calgary, AB

Yes, your municipality is a brand

Brand is normally thought of for large corporations like Nike and Starbucks but municipalities all have a unique story and how that story is shared is the corporate brand. 

This session will walk participants through a brand development strategy to determine what sets their community apart and what it believes in, which dictates the communication style for its residents and visitors. 

2:00 – 2:40 p.m. Sonia Taurasi, Program Manager, Strategic Department Communications

Barbara Prud’homme, Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist, Strategic Department Communications

Lois Davies, Manager, Social Policy and Accessibility

Khairoon Abbas, Program Manager, Inclusion and Accessibility

The Regional Municipality of York

Diversity and Inclusion in York Region: What worked, what didn’t and what’s next

At York Region, we are committed to creating a workplace and community that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone. Learn about our award-winning Diversity and Inclusion project and supporting communications campaigns, and the valuable lessons we have learned – sometimes the hard way – along the way

2:40 – 3:10 p.m. Colleen Collins, Director of Digital Communications, eSolutionsGroup, Waterloo, ON

Maegan MacDonald, Project Manager, Outreach & Education, Hamilton Water at City Of Hamilton

Defending the throne – Changing behaviour on the taboo topic of toilets

The City of Hamilton was looking to take action to address the growing issue of floatable waste in Hamilton Harbour. eSolutions was excited to work with city staff to develop a cheeky, lighthearted campaign to raise awareness and change people’s behaviours around the highly personal and private topic of unflushable waste.

During this session, we will share insights and background about The “Own Your Throne” campaign. Hear about our approach, details about the campaign and the results of this bold strategy, designed to share important messages with the public to help minimize the negative impact to the environment and city infrastructure.


Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 

9:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
WORKSHOP A: Understanding Your Humans – Tools and Techniques to Glean Audience Insights
Doug Lacombe, President, Communicatto Inc.

There’s a reason Forrester Research’s P.O.S.T. model (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology) puts people first – we are (usually) communicating with humans after all! So you’ve done the hard work of developing personas and thinking about demographics, maybe even psychographics and affinity groups.

Those are typically educated guesses at best or reveal biases at worst. How do you validate that the audience you intended to reach is in fact the same gang on your website or social channels?

Do you really know and understand them? Their hot buttons, political preferences, topics of conversation, fears and annoyances? How do you know the content you are producing is a.) Alluring and b.) Having the desired effect?

Enrich your understanding of your audience by using the tools, tips and techniques that will be demonstrated and practiced in this hands-on workshop.

From Google Analytics to social media audits, keyword research to social listening, audience analysis to trending topics, we’ll cover all this and more. And you’ll get to practice with some of the free tools to boot, so you have practical experience in deep audience profiling on the spot.

Ultimately the knowledge you acquire about your audience will make you a better publisher, which in turn helps you get people to act on your content, whether that’s changing behaviours, getting people to vote, appeasing shareholders, attracting talent, or managing your brand and reputation.

Know your people so you can speak to them. The ROI will be evident if you watch the numbers closely.

About the Presenter

Doug Lacombe, MBA is president and founder of Communicatto Inc., a digital marketing agency. Drawing on almost 30 years of experience in media, web publishing and technology; Doug and his team work with organizations to integrate traditional and digital communications, with a focus on content marketing, advertising, and social media.

 1:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
WORKSHOP B: Nimble Leadership in Uncertain Times (half-day workshop)

Dr. Rebecca Sutherns, CPF
Sage Solutions
Guelph, Ontario

It’s been a challenging season. This workshop explores new resources and models that can help leaders cope well with chronic stress and uncertainty. Create positive mindsets, habits and choices to align your personal and corporate responses to constant change, in order to be both intentional and responsive.

About the Presenter

Dr. Rebecca Sutherns is an insightful and high energy collaborative strategist and world class Certified Professional Facilitator with 20+ years of experience supporting community leaders to make wiser decisions faster. She is the author of “Nimble: Off Script but Still On Track – a coaching guide for responsive facilitation.”


Early bird (Until Oct.2, 2020)* Regular
(Oct. 3, 2020 & later)*
Best Value! Conference +2 Workshops (Nov.23, 24 & 25, 2020)   $1015 $1200
Conference + 1 Workshop (Nov. 25, 26  & half day on the 27th, 2020)   $975 $1050
Conference – Both Days (Nov. 23 & 24, 2020)    $750 $825
Conference – One Day Only (Nov. 23 or Nov. 24, 2020)   $375 $450
One Workshop (Nov. 25, 2020) – Morning  and/or afternoon workshop/s each   $265 $300
*Prices do not include 5% GST

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 $10 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.