Citizen participation builds better communities – they make Burlington what it is today.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON May 29, 2011 – It turned out to be a lesson in Civics when Walter Mulkewich, a former Mayor of Burlington spoke of his colleague John Boich who was given the Citizen of the Year award posthumously at a municipal event last Thursday


Six Recognized for Civic Participation.

Click on each of the names below for full details.

John Boich

Emma Harper

Carole Ward

Burlington Teen Tour Band

Guy Granka

Dr. James Henry


“The Citizen of the Year award is for an individual who has shown devoted and energetic service to worthy causes and has been an example to others” explained Mulkewich. He added: “This award symbolizes the immense role citizens have in making our community the best it can be. It is citizens who build community.”

“Most in this room will be aware that John died just a little more than two months ago. Many here tonight are aware of the lasting impact John has had on them as individuals and on our community – and could tell their John Boich stories.”

A recent article about citizen engagement in the Toronto Star suggested that we live in a swamp filled with cynicism, anger, disengagement, diminished expectations, and an attitude that has reduced citizens to their roles as taxpayers and consumers. John’s contribution has been to try to lift our community out of that swamp. To understand John Boich’s contribution to our community we need to understand how profoundly and passionately he embraced a positive ethic of community involvement and practiced the creative art of citizenship.

An American study on civic engagement offered a metaphor for two styles of community participation and governing. There is the vending machine metaphor where you as a citizen put your money in and get services out. When the machine does not deliver, you do what people do – kick the machine.

Another more useful metaphor is the old-fashioned barn-raising. A barn-raising is not a transaction where you pay someone to do work on your behalf, but a collaborative process of working together. The same report suggests that the community is more livable and government works better and costs less when citizens do more than simply choose decision makers. In John’s community work, mentoring, and advocacy, he promoted the barn-raising model.

He was a member of the Political Action Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. He became the leader and President of the Burlington Provincial Liberals. When the City established the new Inclusivity Committee John became a member and helped get that committee off the ground. He was citizen member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Niagara to the GTA Transportation Corridor Study (also known as the Mid Peninsula Highway).

In November of 2009, our former Mayor asked John and I to put together and Co-Chair a Mayor’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Civic Engagement. After a unique and intensive five-month process ending mid April 2010, a dedicated committee of citizens presented to the community a report known as “Shape Burlington, Creating an Engaged Community”. John’s fingerprints are all over that landmark report which I hope will move Burlington into the barn-raising model for city building.

Then, John was a part of the new group, Shaping Burlington, which took on the task of advocating for the Shape Burlington Report.

John is being recognized not only because he was part of a lot of committees and went to a lot of meetings. His presence at those committees and meetings made a difference. He prodded, he encouraged and mentored people, he asked questions, he listened to others, he encouraged intelligent and informed dialogue, he was always positive rather than negative, he presented ideas and alternatives, he encouraged people to expand their expectations, and to see a vision of what can be.

Four other Burlington citizens and one community organization were recognized for the role they have played in making this city the community it is. Emma Harper was recognized as Junior Person of the year; Carol Ward was given the Community Service Award, Guy Granka was given the Environmental Award and Dr. James Henry the Senior Person of the year. The Burlington Teen Tour Band was recognized as the Group of the Year.

A total of 19 Burlingtonians were nominated for a Civic Recognition Award and each person was recognized for their contributions and presented with a certificate of congratulations. Nominees for the 2010 Civic Recognition Awards included Peter Andreana; Burlington Teen Tour Band; BurlingtonGreen Environmental Association; John Boich; George Curran; Finger 11; Guy Granka; Emma Harper; Dr. James Henry; Greg Hunt; Beverley Jacobs; Madi Lalonde; Mary Nichol; William O’Rourke; Richelle Papin; Jackie Ralston; Sally Romanowski; Deb Tymstra and Carole Ward.




Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.