Participating in Municipal Decision Making
The importance of participation
Municipalities make decisions every day that affect their citizen. Citizens expect their municipalities to make decisions that are in the best interest of their communities.
For example, your municipality makes decisions on:
Infrastructure (roads, streets, bridges etc.)
Citizens have an important role in the municipal decision-making process and you can participate in different ways.
attend a council meeting
Municipal Council meetings are open to the public. This provides an opportunity for you to hear the debate on municipal issues and know the Council's decisions. Municipalities must prepare a formal agenda for each Council meeting. The agenda will include an opportunity for citizens to present their views directly to Council as Delegations or during the Public Input Period.
speak as a delegation
Delegations at Council meetings are required to register with the Clerk by 12:00p.m. noon on Wednesday before the meeting so that adequate time is scheduled to hear the delegations and the meeting proceeds smoothly.
Speak during the public input period
Public input is time set aside on each agenda of each regular meeting to permit anyone in attendance to speak on any issue with which they are concerned and presentations will be limited to three (3) minutes. Public input will be “received” by Council only. Questions may not be directed to Council for debate, nor shall any items raised be debated by Council during this portion of the meeting.
Attend Public Meetings
Municipal Councils are required to hold public meetings to obtain public input for matters that have a significant impact on citizens and property owners in the municipality (eg. annual municipal budget, planning issues).
At a public meeting, Council will typically present the proposal that is being considered. Citizens can then share their views about the proposal and ask questions of Council.
Know How to Participate
Your municipalities Procedures By-law establishes rules for how meetings will take place. This ensures that municipal business is undertaken in a transparent manner and citizens know how they can participate.
The Procedures By-law also establishes rules of conduct for the meeting. Rules of conduct apply to Council members and citizens.
Your Municipality’s Procedures By-law has rules about:
When citizens may register as a delegation
Time limits for speaking by Council members and Citizens
Public Input Period procedures
Citizen conduct at the meeting
Consequences for improper conduct by Council members and Citizens
The Municipal Office can answer any questions you may have about meeting rules.
How You Can Participate More Effectively
Learn the issues that are important in your community and understand the particular decision being made by Council
Know the date and time of the meeting
Register in advance if you intend to speak as a delegation
Bring copies of written materials
Keep your presentation within the time allowed
Remain polite and civil. Members of the public can be asked to leave meetings if their conduct is not respectful
Respect the views of others. There are often several perspectives on an issue. Council must make decisions that are in the best interest of the whole community.
Access to Information
Citizens need access to information on the way their municipality is operated in order to effectively participate in municipal-decision making. Some of the documents that citizens are required to have access to under legislation are:
Council meeting minutes
By-laws and resolutions of Council
Your Municipal Office can answer any questions you may have about access to information in your municipality.