Are residents seeing a change in the way city staff are relating to residents? Some think so.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2019



Change in an organization isn’t always immediately evident. The Gazette is getting feedback from its readers on the changes people, who in the past have been very critical of the way they get treated at city hall, are now telling us that Staff are reaching out to them.

“I don’t seem to have to chase people to get information” said one resident. Another mentioned that she was approached by staff in the Clerks office and asked to take part in a committee. “I didn’t know the staffer but she seemed to know who I was” said the resident.

Word is that a committee is being formed to look at the appointments made to the various advisory committees and how they should operate.

Councillor TAylor works at listening to home owners who don't like the city's historical recognition policies.

Former city Councillor John Taylor works at listening to home owners who don’t like the city’s historical recognition policies.

There are a number of people who don’t have much time for the Advisory committee process used in Burlington.

“They tend to be controlled by the council member who sits in on the meeting and serves as liaison to council” was the way one resident described them.

When Gazette staff used to sit in on the meetings it was evident to us that the member of Council had far more influence than the citizen members.

There are those in Burlington who would like to see city staff less involved in the selection of people who serve on committees.

What we appear to be seeing at city hall is a small, subtle change. One needs to do everything possible to encourage that direction they appear to be going in.

Jim YoungJim Young has been very vocal about what he calls a “useless” approach to the creation of Advisory committees and how they get put to work. He has some pretty unflattering experiences with the way the Seniors Advisory committee that he sat on was close to man-handled by Councillors Craven and Sharman.

Craven has moved into the retirement phase of his municipal council career – Sharman is still there but, from what we can see so far – his is a much muted voice.

Leopards apparently can change their spots.

Progress? One can only hope.

Salt with Pepper reflects the opinions, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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2 comments to Are residents seeing a change in the way city staff are relating to residents? Some think so.

  • Stu Parr

    As with any large organization, there is both good and bad at City Hall. The task for the new Mayor and Council is to encourage the good, discourage or weed out the bad. The question is not only one of political will but also of pace and direction. There are a number of relatively simple and easily implemented reforms and ‘functions’ that can be used to increase the bureaucracy’s transparency, accountability and responsiveness; things like a comprehensible organization chart for City programs so citizens know where to go, a staff listing so citizens know who they need to contact, an unambiguous performance dashboard to measure progress against promises and a clearly identified/enabled customer service function. These things are fundamental to the proper and effective operation of a government that values an informed and empowered citizen. Time will tell how much will be done, how quickly and how well.

  • Carie DeMunck

    This will be a good article to revisit once the new Advisory Committees are in place and operating.