Jim Young tells council they have failed to inform, consult, involve, collaborate or empower and reminds council that they are debating the citizens Official Plan.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

February 28th, 2018


Jim Young, one of the most effective speakers in the city delegated before city council last night.  You had to hear him to fully appreciate what he had to say.  Not one member of city council had a follow up question.

The people of Burlington are entitled to hope and expect that their city’s official plan will be about them.

That it will reflect their hopes and their aspirations. That it will provide the basic framework of a city that will be planned and built for them; their families; their futures.

And the people of Burlington trusted Council to do that.

ECoB Dec 13 #2

Jim Young chairing a meeting.

From the public outcry over the seemingly endless ability of Developers to circumvent Official Plans it is obvious that our City’s Planning has failed and will continue to to meet those hopes and aspirations.

They will not be met because you failed to engage with the very people you were elected or appointed to represent. You failed to understand exactly what your citizens wanted in a plan and worse than that you failed right up until the last two months to even ask them what they wanted you failed to engage your own citizens.

This failure began at the very outset of The New Official Plan which, according to City Staff, was undertaken some time in 2012.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs Guidelines on Official Plans calls for “Pre-consultation, public meetings and community input”, yet while you worked on this for the better part of six years your citizens were only involved in the closing months of that six year process.

Had it not been for a massive public outcry late last year, this city would have met its own December 2017/January 2018 deadline and the public input would have been negligible.

Nothing that has happened since November has improved that engagement

Given the number of Citizens Advisory Committees Burlington boasts I find it informative that in all of the supposed engagement in The Official Plan, these Committees were never formally consulted or engaged.


Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate and Empower.

Even by your own standard, outlined in your policy on “Public Participation and Engagement” in which you claim “The city has identified the critical importance of public involvement”. The policy then lays out Five Levels of Engagement on an IAP2 spectrum of public engagement that range from Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate and Empower.

In any final summation of your Open Houses, Grow Bold, Downtown Mobility Hub and Official Plan public meetings they may have been informative but as a city you failed to Involve, failed to Collaborate and most certainly failed to Empower your citizens in this process. Even the limited information sessions were restricted to the format of: “Here are our ideas how do you like them?” rather than: “What are your ideas?

You failed not only in the execution of citizen engagement but your “Inform only model of engagement” came so late in the process that it forced any citizen engagement to become oppositional rather than collaborative or empowering. Citizens denied the opportunity to be proactive in the early stages of the process were forced into criticism off the Official Plan and bitterness that the majority of citizens feel by their exclusion from that process.

The evidence of that exclusion is presented in an analysis of your own document

The document lists 48 oppositional comments from named citizen and concerned group delegations and refers in three areas of opposition to unspecified numbers of “Other Members of The Public”. The absence of detail n these oppositional presentations is extremely disturbing and might be construed by the public as misleading to minimise the extent of public opposition to the Plan and complaint about the methods and level of Public Engagement.

The document further lists fifteen objections, clarifications or other issues from businesses and consultants involved in the Urban Planning and Development Fields. This suggests that public opposition is not just NIMBYISM but is indicative of a bad plan, badly executed and very poorly communicated to those, citizens, businesses and property Developers who had every right to expect better from our city and from our council.

Because this is not council’s Official Plan, it is our Official Plan. It belongs to the citizens of our city.

Given the opportunity and more than six years to do something wonderful for our city, the opportunity to engage your citizens in the re-planning that will affect their lives for decades to come, you chose instead to engage yourselves and in doing so failed the very citizens you are supposed to represent.

Jim Young

Jim Young at the lectern.

Even given the opportunity to defer a decision for further consultation, real involvement and participatory engagement; Our city chose not to allow the electorate to opine on this but once again rushed the decision process to further ignore their wishes and alienate them further. It was reported in the Hamilton Spectator that one Burlington Political Commentator has not seen such a clamour by the public in 45 years of reporting yet still only peripheral tinkering in response to this outcry.

Once again, along with the majority who have spoken, written and delegated I urge city council to postpone this decision on a plan that appears to serve no-one. I ask for not only more time but to utilize that time to Involve, Collaborate and Empower our citizens to create An Official Plan that will satisfy all stakeholders, then to put that plan before them in the upcoming election so all of their voices may be properly heard.

In our democracy the ultimate engagement comes with the election. I urge you to seize this opportunity to engage your citizens fully. Otherwise an engaged citizenship will engage the electorate where you, our council, failed to engage your citizens.

Jim Young is the Chair of ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Ontario and probably the most effective speaker to appear before city council. He has the capacity to get to the core of an issue and drives home the point in a way that not a single member of council can counter.


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5 comments to Jim Young tells council they have failed to inform, consult, involve, collaborate or empower and reminds council that they are debating the citizens Official Plan.

  • Samantha

    Look at the audience that is engaged . All seniors .. the pic says it all . You think the generation that this directly affects were even involved in any meetings with council and this development plan Our mayor doesn’t care about residents of Burlington !


  • craig

    I guess the ultimate test of nibyism and how the majority feels will be in the next election based on who is re_elected and who is not.

    • Phillip

      I don’t think “nimbyism” has anything to do with the current debate; I don’t live in downtown Burlington but I am very concerned about the direction that development is taking in our city and what it means for the quality of life. I think that the writers and commentators on this forum are like-minded.

      I do want to applaud the articles published today by Jim Young, Lisa Kerns, Gary Scobie, and Jim Barnes. Thoughtfully written and precise in their criticism of the leadership and planning for change in our community, particularly the lack of meaningful engagement of Burlington residents.

      I am very concerned that these articles end up preaching to the converted. I know I have forwarded them to several people I know who don’t follow the Gazette. There is certainly a need to make sure they are more widely published if change is to be effected in the coming municipal election.

  • George

    Excellent article Jim your presentation summarizes the failures of city planners, management and Burlington city councillors. Thank you.

  • Good work Jim!

    I’ve been at this 5 years, and can’t say the agenda has been set by the people who will live in this city. It’s a one way broadcast from people who “know better” about how people should live.