Burlington Strategic Plan – Top Priorities for Term of Current Council
Shaping Burlington is the successor volunteer community advocacy organization to Shape Burlington which produced the Shape Burlington Report adopted in principle by Burlington City Council in July 2010. Our primary mandate is to advocate for implementation of the eight recommendations in that report, all of which are aimed at improving the culture of civic engagement in Burlington. We believe that such implementation is a long term process that requires inclusion of enhanced civic engagement mechanisms in all City decision-making processes such as the development of the Strategic Plan. As such, our top priorities to be recognized in the 2011-2014 Strategic Plan are:
- Creating an Engaged Community as a Major Strategy
Implementation of the eight recommendations in the Shape Burlington Report through appropriate recognition as strategic objectives in a section perhaps titled “Creating an Engaged Community” with appropriate objectives and measurable actions given the importance of ensuring that all citizens are strongly encouraged and empowered to fully participate in City initiatives as appropriate. Currently many citizens have little interest in municipal government – extensive measures are needed to encourage and facilitate all members of the community to become engaged, and to ensure that such engagement makes a difference. For example, a specific objective could be “to improve the process for gathering community feedback during strategic planning by direct invitations to community groups, timely provision of background information, and feedback to the community to show that input has been carefully considered.”
- Periodic Review and Reporting on Civic Engagement
Periodic review and reporting to the community over the lifetime of this Strategic Plan of the actions included in the “Creating an Engaged Community” section to determine whether the objectives of this section are being met, with appropriate remedial action if required.
- Municipal Government as Representing Citizens
As we noted in our delegation to the City Committee of the Whole (14 February 2011) on the proposed Strategic Plan process, we believe that the mission statement for the Strategic Plan should reflect the role of a municipal government not, as currently worded, that of an organization having business, competitors and stakeholders. Rather, the role of a municipal government is to represent its citizens and provide services for its citizens.
- Community Surveys – Need Open-ended Questions in Future Initiatives
We support the use of community surveys but note that the survey questions used in the Group workbook etc. for “Burlington – Our Future” provide limited scope for people to provide their own ideas. There is very little space to provide other ideas among big lists of suggested answers. As such, this survey is unlikely to produce really useful information. We suggest that in future surveys there be a strong emphasis on open-ended questions such as ‘What do you like about Burlington? What do you dislike about Burlington? What improvements would you like to see?” We would be pleased to work with City staff on development of future surveys as several of our members have extensive experience in this area.
We look forward to further opportunities to contribute to this very important process. I would be pleased to answer any questions.
Chair, Shaping Burlington