Citizens need to speak up on November 28 or have a limited voice in future.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

November 11th, 2106


Following the outrage over the New Street “road diet” and the introduction of bike lanes to the disadvantage of drivers, transit users and residents; one might have hoped that Burlington City Council would waken up to the fact that communication and consultation, before a decision, is preferable to acrimony and bitterness in its aftermath.

In the New Street aftermath every Councillor I heard from agreed that, no matter how well intentioned, the implementation was a communications disaster. They vowed the road diet will be monitored, measured and the data reviewed and debated by the public to gain their input before permanent adoption.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating at city council. He had ten minutes on this occasion.

In their rush to calm outraged citizens, Councillors assured their constituents that next time around their actions will be more open, transparent and attentive to public input.  So far so good; ruffled feathers have been smoothed, angry voices calmed and all the proper civic engagement boxes ticked. A veneer of local democracy survives and maybe they will all get re-elected next year. Sighs of relief all round.

So how, mere weeks later, you may ask, can this same group of Councillors who have sworn transparency, openness and engagement now vote to limit public delegations to council on matters of community interest and concern?

Until last week any issue before council was open to public input via delegation to council when the issue was discussed and voted on. Interested advocacy groups or individual citizens were allowed ten minutes to present their thoughts, concerns or their support for the matter at hand. Now council’s Community and Corporate Services Committee, which comprises all of city council, have decided that citizens will be limited to five minutes for individual presentations while advocacy and special interest groups will still be allowed ten minutes.


Just how democratic are the city Councillors?

I am at a loss to understand how this promotes or advances engagement and community involvement. Indeed it is an affront to the whole notion of local democracy. Perhaps Councilors Craven, Sharman and Taylor who voted in favour of the new limit will grace their constituents with an explanation. Perhaps they were looking ahead to when the New Street issue comes back before council next year and trying to silence critics who will doubtless be lining up for their full ten minutes to vent on that subject.

"I don't want to hear anymore delegations" said Councillor Jack Dennison.

Councillor Dennison defended the ten minute time limit on delegations.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Goldring defended the ten minute time limit for delegations.

Kudos to Mayor Goldring, Councillors Dennison and Meed Ward who opposed the five minute limit; Defending our right as citizens to speak truth to power. (Councillor Lancaster was absent.)

The matter will come before the full council on November 28th for final ratification. Hopefully Councillor Lancaster will be in attendance and vote some sanity back into the issue or, perhaps, our three errant Councillors will regain their professed love of citizen engagement and vote more wisely on that date.

Members of the public who wish to make their feelings known about this issue at the Nov. 28 meeting can register to speak at the meeting on.

I urge my fellow Burlingtonians to do so. It may be your last chance to get a ten minute hearing with your council members.getting new - yellow

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4 comments to Citizens need to speak up on November 28 or have a limited voice in future.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Nice of Dennison to vote in favour of retaining the 10 minute presentation time.
    NOT!!!!! Dennison never solicits input from the residents of his ward–even on matters that directly affect it. The New Street Lane Reduction cuts right through his ward and has negatively impacted all residents. But Dennison is so thoroughly in the hip-pocket of the cycling lobby that he ignores the residents who elect him. @Steve–actually the entire swamp at City Hall needs draining in 2018–the mayor and councillors have long outlived their usefulness.

  • Steve

    Time to vote out, Craven, Sharman, and Taylor. Maybe then they might understand that the Pleb’s feelings actually do count.

  • WarningU2

    If you watch any of the video of council meetings when people come to speak, it’s a very disrespectful, the lack of attentiveness they show. Rustling papers, talking to each other or looking down. Few times does it look like they are listening.

  • doug

    Didn’t our councilors just see what happened Tuesday.

    I know Craven has already said he doesn’t care what people want, road diet is a go with him and to hell with what we want, he knows better.

    Talk about long in the tooth councilors, you see it front and center with him and is the reason there should be term limits.