17 recommendations going to City Hall this week
It’s been three months since I launched the ‘Fourth Wall’ exhibit, exploring ways to make local politics more inclusive, accessible and participatory.
The Councillors who have visited the exhibit come from all backgrounds and geographic parts of the city. Gloria Lindsay Luby from Etobicoke, Jaye Robinson and Shelley Carroll from North York, Joe Mihevc, Josh Matlow and Josh Colle from mid-town, Mary-Margaret McMahon from the Beaches, Gary Crawford and Paul Ainslie from Scarborough, Adam Vaughan from downtown, etc.
The exhibit proposes 36 simple recommendations for democratic renewal, and all the visiting Councillors have been very positive, offering to support most of the recommendations at City Hall.
I thought it might take a year or two before we actually saw any real progress, but City Councillor Paul Ainslie has taken the lead on this issue and has put forward thirteen of the recommendations at City Hall (PDF letter). Twelve proposals are on the agenda at today’s Executive Committee, and one is going to next Monday’s Government Management Committee. In addition, I’ve been invited by Paul to give a presentation at Government Management Committee, entitled “Improving Local Democracy – A Recipe for Change”.
Paul and I have not always been collaborators. Heck, in 2006 I actually helped run an election campaign against him, as part of the City Idol project. And while I’ve disagreed with some of his votes on Executive and City Council, he’s been a great colleague on the issue of political reform. In early 2011, he provided a tonne of useful feedback on Local Motion, and he was the first Councillor to visit the Fourth Wall exhibit.
The neat thing about democratic renewal is that it’s a non-partisan issue that everyone can get behind: right, left, or the ‘mighty middle’. I’m thrilled that Paul is championing these items and I encourage you to send him a letter thanking him for his efforts.
Fourth Wall items going to Committee:
Executive Committee, agenda Item 15:
• Staff support for residents’ groups
• Convening a “Dialogue on reconnecting people with government”
• Improving signage and outreach/education materials at City Hall lobby
• Create a “one stop” resource centre for citizen engagement at City Hall
• Redesigning public notices
Executive Committe, agenda Item 16:
• Increasing the number of budget consultations
• Using ranked ballots and Instant Runoff Voting in Toronto elections
• Holding our municipal elections on a Saturday or Sunday
• Adding a fully integrated ward search function to our elections website
• Campaigns should be allowed to easily provide contact information
• The election website should include active hyperlinks to candidates’ websites
• The city should pro-actively promote the nomination process and encourage nominations
Government Management Committee, agenda item # 20:
• Expanding provincial civics curriculum to include a full course on municipalities and neighbourhoods
• Minimum deputation duration which cannot be waived.
• More evening sessions of committees, to encourage heightened community attendance.
• Increasing ‘timed’ items on committee agenda items to make deputants attendance easier.
• Restricting the introduction of motions without notice.