Nova Centre

Build Your Centre – Nova Centre Public Engagement Process

In July 2012, Joe Ramia, Halifax developer and President of Rank Inc. announced that the company would undertake an unprecedented province-wide public engagement process to seek the input of Nova Scotians on the design of Nova Centre, a one-million square foot mixed-use development in the heart of downtown Halifax.

NATIONAL laid the ground work for this approach through the development and implementation of a communications strategy focused on public consultation and supporting digital elements. In partnership with experts in public conversation (led by Tim Merry of Myrgan Inc.) the public engagement process was launched in July and came to a close in December 2012.

Objectives
 

  • To engage Nova Scotians in the conversation about Nova Centre through the channels that work best for them.
  • To host an engagement process that informed a final design that authentically reflects Nova Scotians’ aspirations for Nova Centre.

Key Tactics
 

  • Narrative – A master narrative assisted the developer, project partners, and engagement team in communicating the vision for Nova Centre, what the project is comprised of, and the opportunity to shape the development through the engagement process.
  • Events – The engagement process consisted of 12 public events, hosted across the province to discuss the opportunities presented by Nova Centre and the flexible elements of the building’s design they could influence.
  • Digital approachBuildYourCentre.ca was created to support the public engagement process. The site included general information about the project, FAQs, event information, outcomes of the engagement process (event summaries/video/photos), and news. The homepage featured live-streaming video and interactive chats during all engagement events. The engagement program was also actively carried out through social media channels as well, which provided the opportunity to promote events, host discussion, and share program outcomes.
  • Collateral – Engagement events were promoted through print collateral including: posters, postcards, paid newspaper advertising, and an infographic summary of the process and its outcomes.
  • Media relations – A proactive media relations approach was taken to the promotion of all events, engagement opportunities, and their related outcomes. Technical briefings were also hosted on an as-needed basis to provide more detailed information on the evolution of the project.

Results
 

  • More than 2,800 people attended the public engagement events.
  • BuildYourCentre.ca generated more than 10,000 visits and 28,600 page views.
  • The website visits also led to:
    • Over 200 shares using on-site sharing tools, which translated to over 1,000 clicks back to the website. This resulted in a 545% increase in traffic due to social media sharing.
    • Almost 4,000 views of presentation materials embedded on the website and via SlideShare.net
    • Hundreds of social media mentions, largely on Twitter, during engagement events that tied into live streaming video and content updates to the website.

NATIONAL received the Bronze Excellence in Economic Development Award for its 2012 project in the category of Special Purpose Website for communities with populations greater than 500,000 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented October 8, 2013 at an awards ceremony in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.