Agenda item 7. Report providing information regarding Budget 2011 – Public Consultation (CL-28-10)
Agenda item 8: Report recommending approval for Proposed Strategic Planning Process (CS-28-10)
Who we are
Shaping Burlington is an independent community-based committee whose mandate is to encourage the full implementation of the eight recommendations contained in the SHAPE report approved in principle by City Council (Council) in April 2010. Our current membership consists of twelve members of the former SHAPE committee that developed the SHAPE report as well as 4 recently recruited members who share similar interests in promoting civic engagement in Burlington. We come from throughout Burlington and have a wide range of professional experience as well as many years of community volunteerism. The current members are: David Auger, John Boich, David Conrath, Joey Edwardh, Ken Edwards, Larissa Fenn, Shannon Gillies, Mark Henderson, Paul Mitchell, Walter Mulkewich, Liz Nield, Peggy Russell, John Searles, James Smith, Roland Tanner, and myself Chris Walker who serves as Chair. There is more information about us on our website: www.shapingburlington.ca
Council Support of SHAPE report and recommendations
Shaping Burlington is very encouraged by the strong support shown by the previous Council for the SHAPE report and recommendations. Members of our group have now met or at least talked with most members of the new Council and it is clear that there continues to be strong support for implementing the recommendations of the SHAPE report. We have carried out extensive research into many aspects related to implementation of these recommendations, such as the development of an “Engagement Charter” model, and we look forward to working with City Council and staff to share our findings and help the City address the urgent need to improve civic engagement practices in Burlington.
Comments on Agenda Item 7 – Budget 2011 Public Consultation
Shaping Burlington appreciates the fact that public consultation on the 2011 Budget is to take place between the Capital Budget Information Session for Council and the Council Review of the Capital Budget. This provides the public only a very short period of time to digest complex information and provide comments to Council.
In line with the recommendations of the SHAPE report for as early as possible public involvement in the development of major City initiatives, we recommend that the public be consulted during the initial development of the 2012 Budget directions in the spring and summer of 2011. This would allow for much more time for the public to review information and suggest possible changes.
Comments on Agenda Item 8
Shaping Burlington is very pleased that City Council is moving very quickly towards development of the new Strategic Plan. We have some comments and suggestions that we believe would be very helpful to the development of the Strategic Plan process.
The previous Council recommended that the public be consulted prior to the development of the Strategic Planning process. This did not occur to the best of our knowledge. There is opportunity for City staff to consult with Shaping Burlington and other stakeholder groups prior to the proposed Council workshop in January 2011 to discuss alternative models for developing the Strategic Plan. The learnings from these consultations could be discussed at the workshop by Council members as well as members of the public and stakeholder groups. Shaping Burlington would be pleased to nominate two or three of our members to participate in the workshop with Council and staff – not as a delegation. It is strongly suggested that the workshop be held at a venue that facilitates ease of informal participation. The City Council Chamber is not conducive to this kind of meeting.
We hope that the January workshop will address the fundamental SHAPE report recommendation of early public involvement before Council and staff determine the potential issues and directions to be included in the Strategic Plan process.
We suggest that Council strongly consider hiring an independent consultant to facilitate the Council workshop. Indeed, there could be considerable benefit in Council hiring an independent consultant to manage the overall development of the Strategic Plan in order to benefit from the success of other municipalities and other organizations that have taken this approach. There are many firms with extensive experience in this area and taking this approach lends greatly to process credibility.
We suggest that the overall process for developing the Strategic Plan not be set in stone prior to the Council workshop, as there could be considerable modification to the proposed process emerging from the workshop. As well, not having the steps in the process fully determined prior to the workshop would indicate to citizens that their voice is welcome in developing the process.
The City of Mississauga established a 16 person Citizen Advisory Group to comment throughout the development of its recent Strategic Plan. This was considered to have helped build citizen ownership and acceptance of the process and ultimately the plan. It is suggested that Council consider establishing a similar committee to be active throughout the development of the Strategic Plan rather than only for a limited part of the process as proposed in the staff report. Shaping Burlington would be pleased to be part of such a committee.
It is currently difficult to access information about the Strategic Plan on the City’s website. It is suggested that a direct link from the City home page be set up given the importance of the Strategic Plan process. It is also important that full information about the process, such as detailed survey data, be easily available on the website.
The link between development of the Strategic Plan and the City’s budgeting process is presently unclear. This must be made clear to ensure that the elements of the ultimate Strategic Plan are measurable and realistic for implementation purposes.
Shaping Burlington believes that the community needs to feel it is part of the Strategic Planning process and that the community should become energized by the process. We would be pleased to assist City Council and staff in mobilizing public participation in the development of the Strategic Plan through sharing our experience with the community workshops etc. used to help develop the SHAPE report.
Shaping Burlington appreciates this opportunity to provide comments on the proposed Strategic Planning process. We look forward to further opportunities to support City Council and staff in this important initiative.
Chris Walker, Chair