No highway through the escarpment but city hall wants you to drive the electronic highway they’d like to build.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON, June 1, 2011—The city wants to go electronic with you and is asking for your thoughts on just what they can do to make your life easier.

Well a web site that is a little easier to navigate would be a good place to start and then thinking in terms of “open data” meaning that everything the city has in terms of data is available. After all – you pay for the collection of the data.

Municipal governments have a tendency to hold information when information is really supposed to flow so that citizens are informed and able to make intelligent decisions.

The Shape Burlington report said that the city had an “information deficit”. It was true when that report came out and it is just as true today.

The city web site is – well let’s just say it is awkward – but if you go to the transit web site – you get a much more useful site. The difference is that the transit people need you, the potential passenger, to survive. The city doesn’t need you to survive. They tax you and if you don’t pay – they take your house.

Municipalities don’t live in the world that people in the private sector live in. If you don’t sell enough of whatever your company produces – you don’t eat. It’s that simple, but the municipal world is a bit of a cocoon. They are all nice people but there is no urgency to the work they do. They don’t have to make a profit – all they have to do is manage things. They are very well paid and have excellent pensions. Many, many people work in the municipal world for long periods of time. Lots of 20 years + people in Burlington. It is a business that is quite specialized. A municipality doesn’t have a balance sheet; doesn’t have a profit and loss statement. It cannot have a loss – the city cannot run a deficit. Should a city find itself in a serious financial mess – the province has the right to move in and take over.

They err on the side of caution and keep all kinds of reserve funds. Burlington certainly isn’t inefficient. We have good civic administration but there is a tendency not to take risks. Taking a risk doesn’t mean making a mistake but it does mean trying something new. In an effort to help serve its customers better, the City of Burlington is planning to improve its e-Government services to make interacting with the city online easier and more convenient for citizens and businesses in Burlington.

Some of the online services currently offered by the city include applying for or renewing dog licenses; recreation program registration; parking ticket payment and a variety of permit applications.  There is nothing new with these services. A bit of been there, done that.

The press release the city issued said: “As we plan for improvements to services offered online, we need your input. The community feedback collected will assist the city in improving existing online services and will help select the best e-Government services for the public.” They are very sincere in the request. One would have hoped the city would approach this just a little differently and said:

We have these five ideas we think will make your lives easier and allow us to cut down on our costs – what do you think. That would be service management.

Burlington isn’t there yet. But give them a hand. Complete the online survey (it’s on the city’s web site unfortunately) and can be found at: or if you prefer a paper copy, please visit city hall or any city community centre, library or pool.

Surveys must be submitted online, in person, or by mail to City Hall, 426 Brant St., P.O. Box 5013, Burlington, L7R 3Z6, to the attention of Frances Grano, Manager, Strategic IT Service Delivery no later than June 30, 2011.

Learn more about the e-Government strategy visit or contact us at




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