Citizens advising government in more than a token way: democracy appears to still have some life left in it.

Event 100By Pepper Parr

November 6, 2014



Local government works best when the people in the community play a meaningful role in the determination of what the tax rates should be and what the money raised is to be spent on.

Bureaucrats can`t do it all. In Burlington, many of the senior people don`t live in the city 0- their relationship with citizens is for the most part paper based and interactions at committee or Council meetings.

Burlington has a number of Advisory Committees – some work exceptionally well while others are a mess. This reporter has sat in on two Advisory Committee meetings where members were throwing copies of reports at each other.



Nicholas Leblovic. chair of the now sunset Waterfront Advisory committee.  Some Advisory Committees work well – others don’t.

The city has created Advisory Committees and shut them down before they completed a full term; that was the fate of WAPA – the Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory committee that was the starting point for that startling decision of the Council that will end its tem at the end of the month.

There are Advisory Committees that do superb work – better than staff people at city hall. And there are Advisory Committees that are poorly chaired.

Who sits on the Advisory Committees?

The city runs advertisements asking for people to submit an application; they are reviewed, people are interviewed and the selections announced. The decisions of city hall staff who make the recommendations then go to Council where they are approved. There have been occasions when Council decide not to approve a particular person – that kind of a decision gets made in a closed session.
Thus the final word on who sits on those Advisory Committees is made by Council – they want to keep the trouble makers out – or do they want to ensure they will get people who will support what Council wants to see done?

Do Council members put names forward?

There are people in this city that do not agree with some of the policies city Council puts forward and they would like to see some form or organized opposition in place.

While municipal governments do not follow provincial or federal party lines – there are people who would like to see something in the way of an organization that is not specific subject based.


Cut line

The Official waterfront advisory committee was shut down by the city – citizens thought it important enough to have a committee and formed something independent of city hall.

The Burlington Library is working with the city this year to put on an event that will let people learn more about the different advisory committees. The event will include committees that are not part of the civic administration.

The event: An Introduction to Boards and Committees, takes place on November 19th at the Central Library – starts at 7:00 pm. Oddly enough it doesn’t appear on the Library calendar and the city hasn’t said a word about it publicly. Disapointing.

The city has since advised that the event is n the city web site and that paid advertising is to appear soon.

While a large part of the city population lives south of the QEW – there are a lot of people north of that stretch of pavement. Why isn’t an event like this held in Alton in the recreational complex up there? This would give the people north of Dundas and those to the immediate south a chance to really participate.

Among the Boards and committees that will have representatives at the event are:

Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee
Burlington Cycling Advisory Committee
Sustainable Development Advisory Committee
Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee
Senior’s Advisory Committee
Inclusivity Advisory Committee
Mundialization Committee
Committee of Adjustment
Downtown Parking Advisory Committee
Burlington Public Library Board
Burlington Museums Board
Doors Open Volunteer Organizing Committee
Canada Day Committee Organizing Committee
Christmas Parade Committee

Bfast Transit group logo

Bfast is an independent group that is well informed on transit matter. They delegate frequently.

We understand that BFast (Burlington For Accessible Sustainable Transit) will also have a table for people who want to be involved in transit issues.


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1 comment to Citizens advising government in more than a token way: democracy appears to still have some life left in it.

  • Donald

    Funny how I’ve seen lots of tweets, an ad and postings about this. I think we just need to be better informed, by way of effort.