Lydia Thomas: Getting us involved at the end does not work

By Pepper Parr

June 9th, 2014

Burlington, ON


In the delegation Lydia Thomas will put before Council on Monday there is a point that community groups have been struggling to get across in the 12 years I have been following council meetings.

“Engage the public before the decisions are made – involve us while the decisions are being made.  Have us at the table with you – it is our money you are collecting and spending.”

Members of every council I have covered claim they are fully engaged; they put out surveys, the hold town hall meetings during which the talking is from the elected to the electors.  Not all that much listening.

Public meeting at which citizens get to comment on decisions that have already been made. The idea of holding meetings to hear what the public would like to see done and what they are prepared to live within terms of a tax rate.

The city holds budget review meetings that draw 50 people sometimes – seldom more. Putting questions about the budget on line and letting a panel of 5,000 people respond would give city hall a much bigger picture. They may not like the response they get – then what do they do?

In the 12 years I have been doing this I cannot recall one occasion when a delegation was made and a member of council asked the delegator to make an appointment to discuss the delegation and then actually see something positive come out of it.

I have never heard a Councillor say that the idea they are promoting came from a citizen.

There as a certain arrogance to this kind of governing that some in the community are fed up with.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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