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New User-Friendly Websites Present Exciting New Face


March 11, 2009 – The City of Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) today launched new user-friendly websites and the online feature, BizPaL, a partnership with Industry Canada and ServiceOntario.

The websites will make it easier for residents, visitors, businesses and investors to access information with new designs, revised content, easy to navigate pages and convenient features. The new sites offer many features not previously available such as online videos, flash photo galleries and accessibility options. BizPaL simplifies and customizes the business permit and licence process for entrepreneurs by providing one-stop access to all levels of government.

The City of Thunder Bay's website is designed to strengthen our Superior by Nature brand. In addition to giving residents easier access to City services, the website presents an exciting new face to potential investors and visitors. Divided into four sections – Living, Visiting, Doing Business and City Government – the site features online services, an A-Z Guide to City Services, an improved community event calendar, an experience guide, key facts and stats for businesses, City Council information, employment opportunities and much more.

"We are very pleased to launch our new web presence which better connects us to our residents and showcases Thunder Bay to the world," said Mayor Lynn Peterson, "The more than 140,000 people who visit thunderbay.ca every month will find it easier to access City content."

The redesign of the website is initiative No. 65 of the City’s Strategic Plan and, throughout the project, accessibility was kept at the forefront with a variety of features and options including a text resizer, closed captioning of new videos and much more. Accessibility features will continue to be added as the site evolves. Ongoing input from the City’s Accessibility Committee is greatly appreciated.
 
The new site also features images and input from residents and visitors submitted through MyTBay.ca. The City launched the collective storytelling portal in the spring of 2008. The site is a destination for personal and business stories to aid in conveying the brand story about Thunder Bay. MyTBay.ca has received over 300 photograph and story contributions since it launched. Many of the MyTBay.ca contributions are used throughout the City of Thunder Bay’s new website to convey the positive attributes of the Thunder Bay experience to local, provincial, national and international audiences.

"We want to thank residents – past and present – and visitors for sharing their stories and photographs," said Councillor Linda Rydholm, Chair of Council’s Community Communications Committee. "Their contributions help demonstrate that Thunder Bay is one of the best cities in the world in which to live and do business and we are pleased to show these attributes in a fresh new way."

The CEDC is responsible for business development, retention and expansion, entrepreneurial support, opportunity promotion, and the collection and assessment of key business data. Through an improved website, CEDC will be able to respond quickly to new opportunities and initiatives.

"The CEDC is committed to helping businesses grow with expert advice," said Steve Demmings, CEDC's CEO, "By providing a wealth of resources and information online we're able to connect with a broader audience regardless of the time of day."

The City of Thunder Bay website is becoming an increasingly important channel for communication to residents, visitors and investors, attracting 4,759 visits a day in 2008, up 16% from 2007. In 2008, visits from Thunder Bay residents grew to 690 a day, up 52% from 2007.

Following are key web addresses:

www.ThunderBay.ca
www.ThunderBayCEDC.ca
www.VisitThunderBay.com

All of these sites are available from the City’s website:

www.thunderbay.ca

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Contact: Karen Lewis
Manager - Corporate Communications & Strategic Initiatives
City of Thunder Bay
Tel: 807.625.3859
Email: klewis@thunderbay.ca 

Key Features of New User-Friendly Website 

Initiative No. 65 of Building on the New Foundation Strategic Plan is the redesign of the City’s website with a focus on the user. For more than two years, a team of 10 within the City of Thunder Bay have worked steadily on the project with additional work and input from Council’s Community Communications Committee, the Communications Network, which brings together communicators from within the Corporation, our creative team at Generator Strategy Advertising and consultants at Active Network who helped implement our new content management system – software that makes it easy for the City to make updates. Visitors know where they are in the site, can find information quickly and the site is intuitive for experienced and novice users.

Focus on Accessibility
When considering the design and features of the new website, accessibility was kept in the forefront of the requirements. The menu is accessible by either the use of the mouse or the keyboard (tab and arrow keys). Users are able to resize their fonts in three different increments or have the ability to change font sizes by using their browser settings. A built-in feature allows individuals that use Screen Readers to
by-pass the menu system and go directly to the content on the page.  Closed Captioned videos are available within the graphic area of the landing page banners.  Closed captioning will be provided on all new videos.

When screen readers pass over images within the website, they read the mandatory description entered. Tables have accessibility features built in and keyboard shortcuts allow the user ALT key sequences to reach each of the four main landing pages as well as the Contact Us - Feedback Form. Accessibility features will continue to be added as the site evolves.

Easy Access to News and Subscriptions
The revamped News Releases section of the website allows residents to stay informed about what’s happening in our city. It allows users much easier access to the latest information and is better organized for easy access. Users can subscribe to City news through RSS feeds. Whenever the City posts a new release, the user is notified. We value informed citizens; what better way to stay informed than by getting the facts automatically, straight from the City!

Subscriptions are also available to the following: Your City citizen newsletter, Tourism Thunder Bay newsletter and CEDC’s Thunder Bay Economic Developments newsletter.

New CEDC Site
Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has developed a new website to attract investors and serve business 24/7. The Community Profile: Key Facts & Stats is a one-stop shopping document that is designed to provide current information for business start-up, relocation or expansion in the Thunder Bay area to assist in business decisions. Through this site you can access a wide range of information including demographics, economic data, labour force, and commercial / industrial opportunities.

Life Events Helps Residents Through Milestones 
Life events is a new website section for those times and experiences that touch most of us at some point. The City of Thunder Bay has a role in the statutory side of events such as births, marriages, deaths and renovating or building a home and provides advice and guidance on the registration and application of appropriate forms and permits.

This section provides related information and helpful links.

Improved Community Event Calendar
The Event Calendar has been revamped to make it easier to use! New features have been added for finding and adding events quickly. A search is available for users to look for all events of a particular type; e.g. Parades, Sports and others. A ‘pick-a-day’ option has been added for those who may be looking for an event on a particular day. A ‘Find’ box is available to assist in finding an event using a keyword.

An easy fill-in form to post events to the site now allows PDF’s to be uploaded. The new category feature will automatically pull an event into a corresponding section, e.g. Waterfront. Your event is now listed in multiple places for users to find! Simply fill in the blanks, choose from the drop-down lists given, click on submit and your done!


Easy to Find a City Service
The A-Z Guide to City Services is an alphabetical listing of keywords that can be quickly searched to get more information about the services that the City provides. Each of the keywords is a link that leads to more service and contact information. Check out this invaluable feature to see the wide range of services that the City provides.


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