Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is a Public Consultation?

Given a number of 'tweets' by people who were unhappy with both the public budget consultations and the TTC "consultations" over service cuts, I wondered what Mayor Ford and his brother Doug actually think is meant by the term.
 TTC Consultation Frustrates Riders (Torontoist)
Hiding in the Back of the Bus (The Star)

So I researched some definitions for "Public Consultation":

* Public consultation, or simply consultation, is a regulatory process by which the public's input on matters affecting them is sought.
* Indicates that stakeholders (such as relevant industry and/or consumer groups) were involved in developing the label or its associated performance standards.

* A process involving the public which is very strong and formalised, therefore obliging the competent authority to take the results into consideration
* This is the process of engaging affected people and other interested parties in open dialogue through which a range of views and concerns can be expressed in order to inform decision-making and help build consensus.
(I really like that last definition - building consensus, rather than division)

It seems that the only commitment the powers that be at city hall is to 'consider' the public's input, meaning that if they don't like it they can just ignore it, legally. This is the same with any administration, lefty pinkos or right wing nuts. Same goes for the whole budget process. Budget Chief Mike del Grande told me it goes through several 'filters', the last of which is the public consultation. Low on the priority list, isn't it?
Other tidbits I found:
Did you know that there is a Facebook page called City of Toronto Public Consultation Unit ?
Or that there is a city website page with Get Involved News ?

Given the rumblings of deep, serious cuts for 2012, I wonder how much public consultation and notices will be given any monies. Maybe they'll just do away with the farce of 'public consultation'?

So much for democracy. It costs too much compared to other forms of  tyrannies

Tuning Out in York South Weston Now story: "Whether the Budget Committee and sub-committee members really listened to locals’ concerns is anyone’s guess. Scarborough Southwest Councillor Michelle Berardinetti seemed engaged. The same cannot be said for others."