EDITORIAL: City of Pickering needs to reassess how to keeps its population informed

The Ontario Government, the Durham Region and the City of Pickering need to go back to school to learn the fundamentals of information dissemination, especially in regard to the growing demographic of seniors. The publications and information material they provide their residents is unnecessarily complicated, confusing and often chaotic. Comprehension of the material may be a challenge for many older adults.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple)
Older adults struggle with information publications, not because their comprehension capabilities have diminished, but because their tolerance of long-windedness and bafflegab has. Older adults prefer that one gets to the point, quickly, efficiently, and directly. Informational documentation from many political entities, the City of Pickering included, is often far off the mark of succinct and concise writing.

The Durham Region provided local residents with The Ontario Government’s Emergency Preparedness Guide (2015), a comprehensive pamphlet informing recipients of how to prepare for a nuclear emergency. The pamphlet is excellent, for those with strong English literacy but even for them, it may be too much information. The surfeit of text may dissuade many readers from reading the entire pamphlet in detail. Many may feel it is information overload.

Furthermore, though lengthy explanations may be of much value, sometimes saying less says more. Refine, reduce, and simplify are key principles that need to be applied to public information material.

A picture is worth more
In line with the K.I.S.S. principle, fewer words and more illustrations may increase the likelihood the pamphlet will be read completely. Readers struggling with English will likely benefit from more graphics.

Website weightiness wasted
Lengthy website scripts may be an overabundance of information. Many readers want to get to the point as quickly as possible. The City of Pickering publishes an excellent website at Pickering. Clearly, the site developers have put themselves in the reader’s seat as evidenced by the design and layout of the site. Maybe more important, the site is dynamic, presneting the reader with useful and practical graphics in many areas. Thus, encouraging site visitors to explore more.

The site uses headings, color, cleanly-presented titles, and dynamic maps to the benefit of its readers. It offers local resident site visitors a pleasurable opportunity for learning a lot about their city.

The Durham Region distribution of the Government of Ontario nuclear emergency brochure is a necessary public service. However, the actual brochure should be more concise, be more succinct and and be up to date. The current brochure was published in 2015 and should be brought up to date for the safety, security and peace of mind of the Pickering population. An up to date plant can significantly reduce the impact of a nuclear incident on public health and safety. The Government of Ontario should get moving on this for the sake of the people of Pickering.

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