421 of you? That’s it? Pathetic! Response to Insight panel should be a lot higher.

By Pepper Parr

February 28, 2014


The number isn’t nearly high enough – but it is a start.

A couple of months ago the city invested in a service that would result in the creation of a panel of people who would be asked their opinions on a number of critical issues.  It was basically open to anyone who lived in Burlington.

Burlingtonians have opinions – the city manager wants to hear what you think – become part of his Insight panel.

The tool was something the city manager wanted – it is something that operates out of his office.  The politicians can suggest questions that get put to the panel but this is an administrative tool – intended to give the city manager insights on what the people mailing in those property tax cheques think.

As of Feb. 21, 421 people have completed the introductory survey. The city wants people to know more about our Community Insight Panel

Most are long time Burlington residents with 57% having lived here over 20 years, 13% 15-20 years

  • The majority of you are over 31 years of age
  • The majority own their homes
  • Quite evenly split between male and female
  • Several both live and own a business in Burlington

The top three responses to “Why are you interested in being involved in the panel?”

  1. Share Opinions
  2. Influence decisions
  3. Provide Input

A few examples of alternate answers provided by panel members: participate in meaningful engagement with the City, Encourage innovation, participate in the democratic process and to be involved in the community.

Your top five responses to “What matters most to you?”

  1. Parks and public spaces
  2. Property taxes and city spending
  3. Infrastructure for walking, biking and transit
  4. Libraries and recreation facilities
  5. Public safety

383 panel members provided a response to what you like to do in Burlington, and 232 panel members provided a response to what other topics interest you.

Are city council members getting behind this initiative?  Every council member has a data base of people in their ward.  It’s a list of people who have supported them in the past; people who have come to them for some help.

Most Councillors will send out what they call an “e-blast” which is an email that goes out to everyone they have an address for.  Council members also have a Newsletter they send out.

Each council member’s list has to have at least 1000 names on it.  They were asked to send an eblast to their constituents to advise them of the creation of the Insight Burlington panel

My math has 7 members of council with 1000 names each – getting me 7000 names – but all we have is 421 names?  Did the council members really send out an eblast?  We have our name on each of those lists and we don’t recall getting an email from anyone about the creation of the panel.  To be fair some have mentioned the panel in their Newsletters.

Just doesn’t seem that the members of council are fully supporting a tool the city manager has that council members can’t take advantage of – and that is a shame.

If you haven’t already signed on to the panel – take the time to do so now.  Click on the link – and spread the word: Insight Burlington.

Background links:

City manager wants to hear what public thinks.

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3 comments to 421 of you? That’s it? Pathetic! Response to Insight panel should be a lot higher.

  • Diana Levey

    I (and an unknown number of “the majority”) did try to join, but was told “we have temporarily exceeded the optimal number of category members for the consultation group you fall into”
    so I joined a waiting list.

  • Diana Levey

    I did try to join, but received a response that “we have temporarily exceeded the optimal number of category members for the consultation group you fall into” so I joined a waiting list. I hope and suspect it’s not that the “majority can’t be bothered” but that they are looking for a wide range of participants.

  • Stephen Warner

    I joined the panel. I suspect the majority of people can’t be bothered because they don’t think their opinion matters.
    Editor’s note: A couple of points. The panel is run by the city manager, the elected officials have no part in what it is used for. They can make suggestions but that’s it. The service is costing the city $100,000 a year – the city manager is not going to spend that kind of money if he doesn’t feel there is value and a benefit to him in the way he runs the city.
    It should be clear that I am a fan of the current city manager. His predecessor went to another city – and is no longer there either.