Good municipal governance has to start with listening. Expertise and hard work are important too, but they won’t get anywhere without listening:
- Listening reveals facts. It’s hard to know what goes on in a neighbourhood without talking to the people who live there. A traffic study might last a few hours; residents have years or decades of experience.
- Listening tells us what people want. I think we need more natural play spaces, but if the parents in a community want a traditional playground, I do too!
- In some ways, the City’s been doing a great job with engagement. The City seeks input on particular topics, and summarizes what it learned in handy What We Heard documents. It’s good.
In other ways we can do better:
- The word “engagement” reflects the City’s process: asking focused questions in a controlled environment. I think we need to listen. That can mean letting other people control the conversation.
- Because the City isn’t transparent, residents don’t have a chance to comment on a lot of major public policy issues. [See Transparency, Mile One, Metrobus.]
- Our outdated municipal plan means that residents sometimes aren’t consulted about changes when they ought to be, and vice versa. [See City Planning, Development Approval Process.]