Hersh: resident involvement is essential if anything is to be achieved in the first 100 days.

100 daysWe have asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

The Councillors  gets sworn in on December 3rd – what has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in ?

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; even unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department.

We asked the people we knew, they aren’t all friends of the Gazette, what they thought could be done and should be done.

By Penny Hersh
November 12th, 2018

City election logoThe residents voted in a new council with the mandate for change. Will it be what residents expect in what they perceive as a reasonable time frame? That is yet to be determined.

In response to this request and because Engaged Citizens of Burlington – ECoB feels that resident involvement is essential I asked the seniors who attend the current events class I am a part of for their input.

In no particular order this is what was expressed.

– Get control over development.

– Culture change at City Hall – Council needs to direct staff, not the other way around.

– Council needs to stop depending solely on Staff Reports.

– Council needs to work with the Provincial Government – Regarding” Places to Grow” and the demands put on Municipalities to reach the mandated target set out for them.

– Council Meetings should take place throughout the City not only at City Hall. Parking is a problem downtown, and if the meetings take place during the day there is a parking fee.

– Town Hall Meetings – to explain in “layman’s language” what is happening. Telling people to go to the City’s website is not the answer.

– Newsletters from Councillors that do more than just detail events happening in their wards. High praise for Marianne Meed Ward’s “ A Better Burlington”.

– City needs to hire a Public Relations firm to make Municipal Politics “resident friendly”.

City Hall BEST aerial

Together we can make a greater change in the culture at City Hall, and never again have to wait for an election to make our voices heard.

The change Burlington needs requires commitment from City Hall and the citizens of Burlington alike, and it needs to start now. Together we can make a greater change in the culture at City Hall, and never again have to wait for an election to make our voices heard.

To be part of this change ECoB is asking residents to participate in the resident ward level committees that are being formed. More information can be found on our website Engagedburlington.ca To sign up email us at info@engagedburlington.ca and make your ward level committee a success.


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4 comments to Hersh: resident involvement is essential if anything is to be achieved in the first 100 days.

  • Jonathan

    If the new council really wishes to show a difference In how they operate they need to distance themselves from special interest groups including ECoB. ECoB has its own agenda which I for one do not trust. Penny Hersh has a personal agenda which is to force her views on others. Therefore for this new council to be effective consistency in show the same for all groups and no favouritism for groups that help them get elected. Not everyone in the city is against growth. Some people actually want to live in a condo downtown. Let’s not forget more people did not vote for MMW then did. So let’s not pretend she was swept in. My prediction… one term mayor.

  • Stephen White

    The key problem at City Hall is the power imbalance. Power is vested in the hands of developers, planners and Councillors. Ordinary citizens wishing to delegate are treated like interlopers, not as key players. Because citizens lack the technical expertise and access to knowledge that others have they are at a significant disadvantage. Political scientists would call this “elite accommodation”….collaboration among opposing factions that occurs because broad-based consensus amongst the electorate can’t be attained. For too long the residents have just been expected to suck it up, pay their taxes and go along with what is decided. It’s a decision-making paradigm that worked very well in the 1960’s when Burlington had lots of greenfield developments and developers could do what they wanted because the negative impact upon others was minimal. Fast forward to today and the impact that developers have on older, established neighbourhoods such as those in Ward 2 is far more visible, far-reaching, compelling and disruptive.

    One of the things that is needed is to re-deploy staff resources to better assist citizens in preparing briefs, delegating at Council and ensuring they have access to the same information as developers and planners. The other thing that needs to change is the planning review process. Citizen input needs to be immediate, up front and much earlier on in the process, not an inconvenient afterthought. And finally, you need to have people not just on Council but in the municipal public service who are willing and prepared to listen and act in accordance with the wishes of the majority rather than acquiescing to the needs of special interests.

    The last part is the most problematic. I don’t think you can change the decision-making model or the corporate culture and expect the same old players will just “go along to get along”. It typically doesn’t happen in corporate environments, and there is no reason to presume it will happen here. Change occurred on Council and the Mayor’s office on October 22nd. The second phase now needs to involve significant changes in the composition of the municipal public service. The sooner it occurs and the quicker we get new players into influential decision-making roles such as City Manager, Director of Planning, Director of Transportation, and several other positions, then the sooner the community moves ahead with plans to create a newer and more inclusive vision.

  • D Walker

    I agree that referring people to the city’s website is insufficient, and on that same point, I have a lot of issues with the website. I’ve used it many times to look up development news for my ward and found that either: A) It has the wrong information on the webpage (e.g. wrong site plan image for a specific property); or B) It is not updated promptly after a presentation or meeting. I don’t mean prompt as in 24 or 48 hours, I mean prompt as in 4-7 days. It has gotten to the point where I’ve had to contact the planner on file and ask when things are getting posted, and I am given one answer – “Just finalizing things, it will be posted within 3 days” – and then 5 days passes and it is still not posted.

    If the City wants to promote the website as a communication tool, and as Penny suggests, is referring people to the website for their answers, then they absolutely need to make sure that the website is accurate and up to date. That’s not a lot to ask.

    (For a website fail example: https://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/ward-one.asp If you go to the Archived Ward One Development Applications and click “Aldershot Properties – 35 Plains Road”, it takes you to the webpage for 1159 Bellview Crescent. This is such a small link matter, but not the first problem I’ve noticed on the website. Webmasters should review their work and perhaps someone should approve it, instead of letting these kinds of mistakes fester.)

  • Susie

    Great input Penny. To add to the first on your list, I feel that “all” precinct designation sites should be scraped! Developers had their fingers in this decision to guarantee them higher than normal heights in areas that need special needs. i.e. corner of Brant and Lakeshore for one! Low height development in the immediate downtown areas and along Lakeshore is front and centre in my mind for rightful planning for the uniqueness that they deserve.