City & Town Engage Programme
The City & Town Engage Programme explores ways to make Limerick City more liveable by simply asking citizens to contribute their thoughts, opinions and hopes, supported by a digital platform. Ordinary people often feel excluded from proposed local authority projects because one of the only ways to give feedback is by lodging a formal planning objection, for example. This idea that collective knowledge can be harnessed to inform and inspire community initiatives and new public realm projects is innovative.
Rosie Webb, Senior Architect with Limerick City and County Council said: “City Engage is all about listening to people and incorporating their views into the overall plans for the city.”
The council teamed up with SAUL, School of Architecture, University of Limerick, and in March 2017, the inaugural event focused on proposed plans for Limerick’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street. This was followed with a week-long series of events in April asking how best to connect with the city’s greatest asset, the River Shannon. Activities included mapping riverside walkways with wheelchair users to personal photographic presentations cataloguing the river’s historical and cultural significance, its perils and the groups literally immersed in its waters. Its activities and outputs were catalogued at: https://adaptivegovernancelab.wordpress.com/events/2017-2/second-city-engage-week/
Capturing the interest and soliciting the views of local people guarantees more participation from the ground up. Professor Merritt Bucholz from the University of Limerick summed it up by saying that the events aim to “provide an open door to the design of the city and a really new way to get great ideas for its future from the people who know it best”.
New models and platforms of citizen engagement will be developed as part of the +CityxChange, a Horizon 2020 project that will see Limerick become a Smart Lighthouse City.
‘City Engage’ will lead to better understanding by both stakeholders and citizens of how to achieve to work together to achieve a ‘Living Limerick’.