Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ways of Working Together with You

Last week I wrote to you about how your municipal council is organized. But, how can you or other members of the public get your suggestions or improvements examined and implemented?

Anyone interested in making a presentation to Council or General Committee should contact the Town Clerk at (905) 892-2607 ext. 320. You must make a formal request in writing before 4:30 PM on the Wednesday preceding the meeting. The Town’s Procedural Bylaw limits presentations to 10 minutes, but offers no time limit on questions by Councillors; it also limits the number of presentations to four per meeting.

You can also provide suggestions during a “public meeting.” Most public meetings involve planning matters and follow a formal agenda – presentations by staff and the applicant, direct input by members of the public with questions and comments, comments by Councillors. We invariably direct staff to prepare a report for action based on the public input.

I am very proud that this Council starts our annual budget deliberations with a special public meeting. We listen to all public input on any spending or Town issue. We refer all your input for consideration as staff prepares the budget for the next year.

We will hold the 2010 Pre-Budget Meeting on Tuesday, October 13 at 7:00 PM at Pelham Fire Station #2 (Fenwick). Register with the Clerk in advance or just come and present your ideas or suggestions.

You can also give us your ideas at open houses or “public information centres”. These sessions generally include diagrams, maps, or mock-ups and, over a couple of hours, provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and make written suggestions or comments. For example, staff will organize an open house regarding the reconstruction of South Pelham (downtown Fonthill) this fall.

After generally starting with a presentation by a consultant or staff, workshops usually break-up into small groups to solicit interactive feedback and suggestions. During the summer, the Town held workshops regarding a vision for the Town’s “Community Improvement Plan”; we should hear results this fall.

You can also use standard communication methods to make a suggestion or get your point across. If you write about a major issue or request a policy change, your letter will go to the appropriate committee for information or action. Of course you can also call staff, councillors or myself directly. You can also request a meeting to discuss your issue. (You can even stop me on the street, as many people do, to discuss Town matters!)

These are some of the major ways in which you can get involved in the Town’s democratic process.