A lesson in public input

Wolfville is drafting a new public participation policy. It should be easy in a small town like Wolfville to allow a few concerned people to speak at every Council meeting, and not just at select meetings – in the afternoon yet. They can manage to let people be heard in bigger cities. Here is just one example, some highlights from a Tucson City Budget meeting.

It isn’t really surprising that some of the issues are the same, but at least these people could say their piece. Are they considered too negative, or are they considered to be residents who want the best for their community?

From the ToW website:

Members of the consultant group working on this plan, RAMP UP, will be available for questions and public input at Town Hall on Friday May 7, 2010 from 10am-12pm.

If you work forget it but you can make a written submission either by way of the website, by email to the Mayor and Council or by leaving a note at Town Hall.

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3 responses to “A lesson in public input

  1. Marky Mark

    I think the Town’s latest moves with public involvement are pretty inappropriate. What a great time of day to have a meeting about more effective public involvement! It’s ironic how this consultant has been hired to show the town more effective ways of engaging the public and then they host a public meeting in the middle of a work day. I guess they can check public consultation off the to-do list.

    Bigger than the opportunity to ask questions at council meetings, I think Wolfville and most other municipal governments are lacking the discussion portion of a good democracy. There never seems to be an open opportunity to discuss broad issues like residential growth on agricultural land (latest subdivision approval on Maple) how streets are designed when the infrastructure is replaced (Chestnut, Sherwood etc. and Front St. this summer) or what could happen downtown (sidewalks, parking, patios, food vendors, bike parking etc.) The town has the opportunity to do whatever we can dream of within its road right of ways, parks and other Town owned land. This leaves endless options to support creative urban design projects like bike lanes, wider sidewalks, pedestrian streets, freeways, vast parking lots or whatever. But when is there a time to discuss these types of things?

    The only opportunity to have your voice heard is during a question period where a specific development or issue is being considered by council/some other committee. The members of these committees are understandably tired and often just wanting to go home at the end of a long day, so getting a real discussion going about big picture design/planning issues never seems to happen at these meetings. The only other option to express an idea is to volunteer to give a presentation to a tired committee and the few community members in the audience – again not a very effective way of conversing or activating many people.

    I’m suggesting that municipal governments should engage the public to talk about bigger picture topics outside of council meetings and have a discussion about these local issues. Perhaps this doesn’t happen because of a perceived lack of interest, but I refuse to believe that people don’t care about how their community is designed.

    • Heck Mark, that’s just so sensible. Still, I’m not holding my breath while I wait for Council to invite citizens to discuss the “big picture”.

      Perhaps a WolvilleThinks website where citizens can toss ideas around?