Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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?

You can provide suggestions during “public meetings.” Most public meetings involve specific 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.

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 is organizing an open house as part of the development of the Town’s New Heritage Master Plan on January 27.

After generally starting with a presentation by a consultant or staff, workshops usually break-up into small groups to solicit interactive feedback and suggestions. In the past, the Town as held workshops regarding a vision for the Town’s “Community Improvement Plan”, the Official Plan, and the East Fonthill Secondary Plan.

I am very proud that 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. We held our 2012 Pre-Budget Meeting in October and the ideas and issues raised at that meeting will receive special attention as we consider the operating budget on January 30.

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 also make a formal presentation at one of our Council or General Committee meetings. To do you, you need to make a formal request to the Town Clerk 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.

These are some of the major ways in which Council and I welcome your involvement in the Town!