City Employees Banned from Viewing New JRA Website


The Junction Residents Association was saddened to learn that the new website we launched this past two weeks is on one of the social networking sites not accessible by city employees.  We learned this after inviting our Ward 13 Parks contacts to join the site and the groups and forums that have formed to discuss Junction parks issues, and they told us they couldn’t access it.  The platform we are using for our website is Ning, designed specifically to connect and organize people around a common cause.  We think that denying city employees the ability to connect with the residents they are hired to help is completely counter-productive and invite you to contact Stuart Green from the Office of the Mayor at 416.338.7119 or if you feel the same.  We will be contacting him and other city representatives formally to do the same.




As someone who was at the last JRA meeting, it wasn't clear to me if city employees are simply blocked from accessing the site at work (as a lot of people at their jobs might be for a variety of legitimate reasons) or actually forbidden from registering accounts with specific sites to avoid conflicts of interest (similar to the way in which public school teachers generally aren't allowed to interact with their students over social networking sites like Facebook).

I suspect the situation may only be the former, and that city employees can access the site from home. If so, this is probably a good thing. In addition to making sure people aren't socializing while they're being paid with tax dollars, it's also prevents potentially personal information accessed via a social networking site from making it onto government computers.

You're right that city employees aren't banned from accessing these pages from home, but I disagree that it's a good thing that they can't access them from work. These platforms not only offer members of communities the opportunity to discuss issues with each other, but can allow for the city to be aware of what issues are concerning them. If we begin a conversation about installing picnic tables in a park, I want a city employee to be able to join in that conversation and provide information on what steps need to be taken or advise about the obstacles that must be overcome. In many ways, this type of engagement will save time for both city employees and the community they serve. It also enriches the investment both sides have in the issues.
All this being said, I realize that councillors do not have the same restrictions, and ultimately, they should dedicate more resources to engaging their communities this way.

City employees are also disallowed from commenting regarding city issues in a public forum either at work or in their own time.

Hei, I got this wrong in my comment, this extracted text form a later comment by someone at the city know knows about the issue explains it correctly.
As for City employees being “disallowed from commenting regarding city issues in a public forum …”, this is not precise. The issue here is citing a personal opinion that may be construed as an official “City” opinion.

Hello all, some clarification here in having just found your blog. City employees are able to access social media if they present a business case on how they need to use such sites. In the above example, members would outline how the interaction applies to their work. To date, staff making such cases have been granted access. I suspect the staff in question are not aware of this. Communications around social media has started but not all staff are tuning into vehicles such as a Monday Morning News blast or the intranet. The City is actually well underway in preparing a policy on use of social media. On first brush, it may seem like a no brainer "turn it on" issue but when you begin to address legal obligations such as required data retrieval (even from sites that our not the City's property e.g. Facebook, YouTube, etc), it is by no means straight forward. There are actually hundreds of issues at play. Further to communications, City of Toronto staff are encouraged to partake in the internal social media blog: webbook – to discover more on how social media is entering the government and what is being done. This is accessible through the City intranet site. Some of the webbook blogs, in particular those by the CIO, Dave Wallace and Deputy City Manager, Sue Corke are by no means taking an anti-social media view. As for City employees being "disallowed from commenting regarding city issues in a public forum …", this is not precise. The issue here is citing a personal opinion that may be construed as an official "City" opinion. Again, the social media policy is addressing the particulars. I speak here as a member of the re:Brand team and not as an individual personally engaged in social media. Should I want to comment personally I would need to clearly say this is my personal opinion and not that of the City of Toronto. It's a clear distinction. We are also looking to engage residents direclty and hear their comments about the web and our relationships with you. I am not sure I can make active links in responses so I will err on this not being allowed. But, we encourage anyone who has something to say about and web interactions to participate with us. Go to:
for an anonymous survey or go to:
to become a tester with us around pages. Among the many things we are examining is how we can engage Toronto through social media – ours, yours and theirs.

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