Do public petitions make a difference? Are they worth the paper they are written on?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 13, 2017




Do they make a difference?

421 Brant

The 421 Brant development, approved by a city council Standing Committee, goes before city council for approval this evening.

Are they an accurate barometer of what the public in general is thinking or are they an opportunity for people who are opposed to something to show their opposition?

Do the politicians pay attention to petitions?

In many cases a petition is the only voice people have when they want to oppose something their government.
The current petition asking the city to stick to the current zoning for the northeast corner of Brant and James streets was put forward by Joanne and Kevin Arnold who said they created the petition to change something they cared about. 1384 people have added their name so far.

The people who are opposed to the New Street Road Diet have collected 2641 signatures as of January – that is the most recent number – appear to have signatures from the ward the bike lanes are in.

UPDATE: As of Nov 13th there are 3262 signatures, plus 500 signatures on a hard copy of the petition.

A number of years ago Councillor Marianne Meed Ward created a petition to oppose the sale of lake front property the city owned between Market and St. Paul Street – she got more than 2000 names on that petition. The property was still sold.

Those opposed to the now recommended development at Brant and James have the right to delegate before city council.

The city is faced with a serious problem – they are required to add significantly to the population of the city and there isn’t very much land on which to build new homes. They can’t build out – so they are going to build up. And they chose to recommend to council that a project that would have 23 storeys be approved. The 5-2 vote was pretty emphatic.

Are those opposed to the development – they say they are not opposed to height they just don’t want it built on property so close to the waterfront – wanting a Burlington that cannot be sustained?

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie delegating before city council – he was one of the few that had anything to say about the development at a city Standing Committee early in November.

There were not very many public delegations speaking against the development when it was at the Standing Committee stage. The city manager spoke more forcefully for the project than any city manager has spoken in this reporter’s memory.

City councils are elected – put in office to serve the people. If the public is really, really, really opposed to this project have several hundred of the 1380 who signed the petition get off their couches and head for city hall and use their five minutes to demand that city council respect their wishes.

Something like THAT would have an impact.

The Gazette has published the delegation Tom Muir,  an Aldershot resident will make to city Council this evening.  A review of the comments about his delegation is worth a read – it gives a sense as to how the public feels about this issue.

An Open Letter from former Mayor Mary Munro to the current Mayor is also a solid insight on how this development proposal has been managed.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by the publisher and sole share holder of the  Burlington Gazette.

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3 comments to Do public petitions make a difference? Are they worth the paper they are written on?

  • Helene Skinner

    No they don’t make a difference. I have first hand experience

  • Eva Amos

    Just a correction on the numbers on the petition for the New Street Road Diet. As of Nov 13th there are 3262 signatures, plus 500 signatures on a hard copy of the petition. I appeared on The Issue, a current affairs discussion program on Cogeco TV on Feb 7, 2017 discussing the concerns of Burlington residents opposed to the diet. There have been numerous letters to the editor both in The Post and The Hamilton Spectator published opposing the diet, not just residents of Ward 4 but people trying to get across the city. There have been many letters to the individual councillors plus meetings with each and every one of them. We also plan to delegate to council after the report from the transportation dept with their recommendations.

  • William

    Council will dismiss the petition as they always do. No matter how large the number, they’ll say they represent the silent majority of Burlington’s 175k residents. They never offer any evidence that in fact they have that backing.

    The only time council pays attention is when lots of people in their ward challenge them and they feel their their electability is threatened. If they figure the opposition is in another councilor’s ward they’ll shrug their shoulders and vote to rubber stamp the staff recommendation.

    The real problem is we have a mayor who sees himself as the ribbon cutter in chief and just one vote at the council table. He’s unable and/or unwilling to rally council. Compare that with Oakville’s Rob Burton who clearly drives their council’s agenda.

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