Saturday, February 24, 2007

Budget Consultation

Blown into budget consultation by last Thursday night's brutal winds your curious correspondent is somewhat surprised at the reasonably good turnout braving the cold February night.

About thirty citizens hear and watch the usual staff suspects, Mayor Jackson and Councillor Goldring dish out power point presentations, handouts, lots of insights and refreshments in a two-hour plus meeting at the Appleby Ice Centre.

This City presentation was one of four scheduled over a two week period.


Your correspondent wonders who is here and why.

Gracie Noll is present - worrying that budgets are just part of some large conspiracy to hide information from the public. Your correspondent marvels over the absurd, but common, public perception that if you can't read about it in the Burlington Post then City Hall is involved in some sort of cover up. The proposed development of a McMaster campus in downtown parking lot #4 is a case in point.

Tex Burden is in attendance as well. Tex reminds us that all levels of government have been piling on him for years. Tex waxes nostalgic about the good old days. Armed with half-baked Fraser Institute analysis, Tex apparently uses no public services. He wants to be left alone.

Juan Issue speaks as well. Nothing wrong with expressing an interest in one particular program or service or pointing out an oversight or lack of consistency in policy or program implementation. Tonight, it is soccer that is the focus of Juan's concern.

Yes, says the Mayor, we need equity in programs. Soccer has been badly treated in relation to sports like hockey and football. Some audience members are surprised by the mayor's disclosure.

Many in attendance, perhaps the majority, are here purely out of interest. They like living in Burlington and want to contribute as citizens by better understanding their hometown. They appreciate that public processes like budget consultations exist and that staff and politicians make themselves available to answer questions/provide information.

The City's website, for example allows you to question staff/politicians and even get answers.

A Budget Question

Let's see how this works. Your quizzical correspondent's question is:

At last week's budget consultations in Ward Five the mayor indicated that the City has not supported soccer to the same extent that it has other sports such as hockey and football. Why has this happened? Are there plans to address this inequity?

I'll get back with the answer next week.