City of Calgary launches engagement for the 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budgets with new initiative


You can now talk with a bus stop in Calgary – and it will respond

You probably use dozens of City services every day, but have you ever wondered how and why those services are delivered to you?

City Administration is launching public engagement as they work on plans to deliver services to Calgarians for the 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budgets. These provide a roadmap for how The City delivers and allocates funding for services. As part of this project, an initiative called "Talking City" will help Calgarians learn about City services in a unique way. Through automated text messages, citizens can talk with select light poles, bus stops, public art pieces, inclusive playgrounds, swimming pools and more. The personified City service will tell the user an interesting fact about itself and encourage Calgarians to share what’s important to them about that service.

“We wanted to help bring the pieces of City services together in an innovative way for Calgarians, sharing information and initiating conversations,” said Chief Financial Officer Carla Male. “The goal is to provide citizens with a COVID-friendly way to engage with The City, attracting those who have valuable feedback for us as well as those who may not typically talk with us to provide input into our next service plan and budget cycle. It’s a great opportunity to help shape Calgary’s services for the next four years.”

Talking City is one of many elements of engagement and research to support our service planning, like an online survey open to everyone and focused research with a citizen review panel, all of which will contribute to the development of service plans and budgets. Talking City will communicate key facts, capture feedback directly, and ask users to complete a survey to provide their full input about City services. All citizens, whether they are participating in Talking City or not, are encouraged to fill out the survey at until March 7, 2022.

Using the phone number and keyword on the signage, Calgarians can text in English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Punjabi and Arabic to start the conversation. There are more than 100 sign locations across Calgary, which can be found using The City’s online Talking City map. Calgarians with a keen interest in municipal government could treat it like a scavenger hunt, attempting to find all keywords across the city while interacting with City services. For those with mobility or transportation challenges or who prefer a virtual experience, the online map provides an alternative for those who want to participate without going to the locations physically. The map includes sign locations, information about the service, and a link to the survey. Citizens without access to the internet can call 3-1-1 to request a paper copy mailed to them, or to have a City staff member fill out the survey with them over the phone.

“Our Service Plans and Budgets serve as the foundation for our service delivery, the value we provide, and how we contribute to the quality of life in Calgary’s communities. Calgarians’ input is an important part of the planning process. By getting citizen feedback, we can better understand Calgarians’ perspective around our service levels and the value they receive for their tax dollars and user fees,” said Male.

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