Windsor ward meetings draw big virtual crowds

Windsor City Hall, December 2019. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

The City of Windsor’s series of virtual ward meetings brought more participants than expected.

Each fall, members of Windsor City Council and Mayor Drew Dilkens have hosted individual ward meetings, to discuss issues important to the district and hear input from ward residents. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city was forced to find an alternate way to hold the town-hall-style meetings.

The result was the city hosting five telephone-based meetings, which were attended by a total of 3,647 people, or an average of 729 per meeting.

Dilkens said despite all of the negativity surrounding the pandemic, something positive did come out of the higher-than-anticipated participation.

“We launched this as a result of the pandemic, but it helped us reach a much broader audience than the typical ward meeting,” said Dilkens. “While we tend to get a few hundred participating in all ward meetings during a good year, over 3,600 this year is an amazing level of engagement. We probably hit a few individuals that would otherwise not have attended an in-person meeting, regardless of the current public health crisis.”

Residents who had landline phones got an automatic call when the meeting got underway. Those with cell phones only were required to pre-register.

All five of the virtual meetings can be accessed in their entirety on the city’s official YouTube channel. A complete summary of the surveys taken during the meetings is also available on the city’s official website.