Pathetic turnout for public meeting on the budget - wasn't the weather - rink next door drew the hockey parents.

burlbudgetBy Pepper Parr

January 30th, 2015


Was it the weather?

Maybe people didn’t know about the meeting?

Maybe they don’t care?

Budget public meeting - empty hall

Ten minutes before the only public meeting on the 2015 city budget was to start this is what the room looked like. About ten people showed up. Mayor was there but he didn’t stay long enough to take his coat off.

All three questions came from General Manager Infrastructure and Development Scott Stewart as he looked around a room that has less than five people ready to listen to a public presentation on the 2015 budget.

Budget public Mayor with his coat on BEST

Mayor doesn’t stay at budget meeting long enough to take his coat off.

There were more than ten staff members. Except for Councillors Lancaster and Taylor everyone else was in the room. Mayor Goldring didn’t stay long enough to take off his coat – no photo op here he must have concluded.

As presentations go – it was as good as it gets.

City staff have done a lot of excellent work bringing forth a much different way of creating their budget and producing a document that is much easier to understand.

Staff had hoped to go on line from the Mainway Recreation Centre and take people through a demonstration of the flashy new city web site – but the access they needed wasn’t apparently available.

Budget public Angelo Benivenuto and Carol Gottlob

Political hopefuls Carol Gottlob and Angelo Benevenuto attended the 2015 budget presentation


The Gazette will do a detailed follow up piece with all the graphs and charts that help people understand what the tax collector is going to do with the money you send them.

Budget public parent on stairs at ice rink

The weather didn’t keep hundreds of parents away from a hockey game at the Mainway Recreation centre right next door to where the budget for 2015 was being explained.

As to why there weren’t at least 100 people in the room – well it could have been the weather – but the crowd at the arena right next door tells you it wasn’t weather.

Don’t they give a damn? They might if they knew about the event. City hall still doesn’t have that ability to reach out and touch its public.

Because when it matters – the public does show up. Back in 2011 more than 400 people packed the same room – they didn’t want any kind of highway going through the Escarpment and they were in that room to make sure they were both heard and understood.

Maybe, wondered Scott Stewart, they are just happy and satisfied with the job we are doing for them?

We didn’t realize that Scott Stewart knows how to dream in Technicolor.

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8 comments to Pathetic turnout for public meeting on the budget – wasn’t the weather – rink next door drew the hockey parents.

  • Susan Lewis

    I wanted to go to this meeting. I was at last years meeting.

    I couldn’t go because it was too difficult to get to by bus. After 8:25, the bus runs only once an hour! Last year I met a few people that arrived by bus. I wonder if they managed to get to this meeting. The Art Gallery is a central location and easy to get to but Mainway Rec Centre isn’t.

    Having said that, I agree that the decisions have already been made and the City can use these meetings to say they got input from the public.

    I wish I lived in an inclusive City.

  • Carol Gottlob

    I believe the Internet is killing the public forum. Everything that was presented that evening could be found on-line, so why would people leave the comfort of their home on a snowy January night to attend a meeting, unless they had questions? With 30% voter turn out in the election, 7 members of the voting public turning out to a public meeting is about right in line. It’s a sad reality.
    I came out because I wanted to learn more about the Results Based approach. The presenters were well-prepared, the cookies were fine, but the audience was out-numbered by staff and councillors (3 who stayed for the evening).
    It might be worth trying a blog; not something I would be happy participating in, but it might work better in this day and age.

  • Sue

    You got one thing right –

    “Maybe they don’t care?”

    I’ve lived here my whole life and have never been to a budget meeting. I pay lower taxes than my sister in Hamilton and get better and more services for it. I’ll bug city hall if I have a complaint. That’s about it.

  • Glenda Dodd

    I for one didnt’t get any notification of this meeting, saw the post about it in the Gazette but to late for me to back out of committment I made for that evening.

  • John Sweeny

    I attended the meeting last year and found that the information presented was generic and that the decisions where essentially made. We were asked to comment on expenditures that were as low as $8,000 which is ridiculous. My impression is that the process is designed to satisfy an “obligation” for public participation and not really looking for public participation.

    Additionally, I wasn’t sure of the time and location (the only reason I knew it existed at all was because the Gazette reported on it earlier) so I went on the City’s “fancy new website” and it didn’t show up in the calendar. The only thing listed for the budget was the Committee meeting yesterday at City Hall. If you clicked on the link for “Budget” it didn’t even have the meeting listed. I had to do a search to find a news article that included the information on the session. There was no agenda or content that I could review prior to the session.

    The fact that they were even planning to “show-off” the new website is a clear indication that they just don’t get it. It was supposed to be a BUDGET MEETING!

  • Roger

    I could not agree more with Steve – yes the weather was a factor however this was more a presentation then a discussion. The decisons to all account are made – there is neither little want or need for city staff to have input from the taxpaying public.

  • Steve

    Maybe it’s because people know decisions are already made, so there is no point in participating.