My New St. John’s Website

Website | City of St. John's
Abstract:

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Purpose of Project
Given the increase in the number of newcomers arriving in St. John’s and the importance of immigration to the growth and sustainability of the City, the City of St. John’s (as a municipality and through our Local Immigration Partnership) has made a commitment to help improve newcomer settlement and integration outcomes. Through our past consultations and community forums (involving over 200 community members) it was identified that there exists a lack of awareness of what services are available in the region, as well as the need to better connect newcomers to those services.

Navigating a new city can be very challenging, and the right tool can make settling and integrating in a new place much easier. With this in mind the online and mobile-friendly MyNewStJohns service map was proposed. To develop this tool the City developed a comprehensive inventory of services and held three focus group sessions with stakeholders/target users (newcomers themselves) to determine relevant content and desired functionality for the service map. The platform was designed from the user’s perspective and allows the user to tailor their search criteria to include individual characteristics (immigration status and age) as well as well as the desired search field (including employment and entrepreneurship, basic needs, settlement, religious and faith institutions, and many more).

The project began in November 2017 and the site was launched in June of 2018. We believe that the tool will play a role in supporting settlement and integration as it reflects the unique economic, social and cultural life of the City and has significant potential to help newcomers more fully engage in all aspects of the community.

Effectiveness/Meeting Objectives
The Service Map was needed to effectively plan and identify community priorities and help newcomers and immigrant servicing agencies navigate and access existing programs and services.  Other objectives include:

  • Improve coordination of services, highlight opportunities for collaboration and avoid duplication of services.
  • Improve immigration outcomes and contribute to successful integration and increased retention of newcomers.
  • Help address labour market needs and support economic development through immigration, aligning with key components of the City of St. John’s Economic Development Strategy Roadmap 2021.

An innovative approach that accounts for current media preferences MyNewStJohns utilizes the power of Google Maps (plus an advanced plug-in) to deliver an online map experience and provide an exceptional user-based experience. It allows users to tailor search criteria to include individual characteristics (age, gender, Canadian, immigration status).  The on-line/mobile friendly platform uses a minimalist format and offers ease of navigation to ensure that information is easily searchable.  The website provides:

  • information about the service and service provider, including contact information, eligibility and whetherit is a paid or free service
  • location of the service on a map, directions and transportation options
  • features to ensure enhanced access to end-users with disabilities

Through design efforts, the MyNewStJohns website can be easily shared or printed and is email friendly.

Challenges & Changes Made

  • Determining the parameters and limiting the scope of the content included in the Service Map has been an ongoing challenge. Not all feedback we received through the focus groups is able to be incorporated. MyNewStJohns is a targeted tool aimed to help facilitate settlement and integration, it’s not a replacement for a Google search.
  • Finding a balance between information for all individual scenarios while retaining functionality.
  • The platform was built with the ability to easily update the information in the map as necessary thus allowing the City of St. John’s to make changes in house to keep the site current and up-to-date.
  • Phase 2 will see the creation of a strategic and focused marketing strategy and the development of a French version of the website in collaboration with francophone partners.
  • A letter of intent has been signed with a rural community in Newfoundland and Labrador with a growing immigrant population (Happy Valley-Goose Bay), to replicate the service mapping platform. There is significant potential for this platform to be adapted to communities of various sizes.

Target Audience
The MyNewStJohns website is aimed at new residents including international students, provincial nominee participants, permanents residents (including refugees), temporary foreign workers and other newcomers to the city. Through the online services map, we can provide newcomers with the information they require to support their settlement and integration regardless of immigration status and help to create a welcoming environment for everyone.

In the past month, after a soft launch (City of St. John’s issued a news release), the site has received 510 unique visitors. With appropriate marketing and outreach efforts we can expect up to 2,00 visitors per year. The City of St. John’s is ensuring the Service Map is effectively promoted to a broad audience through our social media channels and newsletters, through the St. John’s Welcome Centre and by doing community outreach including demonstrations of the tool at cultural events.

The site was funded in partnership with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. By working together, we are enhancing settlement services, and creating opportunities for immigrants to successfully integrate into life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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