If we learned anything during the recent elections, it is that Montrealers (and more specifically, residents of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce) want an administration they can trust. I heard it frequently as candidate for mayor of the borough, and so did my colleagues.
Our new borough council has a tremendous opportunity to show leadership by opening the doors wider to public scrutiny and regain the trust that had been lost. Mayor Russell Copeman has taken a good first step by making borough council meetings more accessible with rotating locations. Much more still needs to be done, and the upcoming municipal budget is the next logical move. Transparency is the name of the game.
In January, the borough will hold one consultation meeting to discuss its $75 million budget. This is simply not enough. We must go beyond what was done before and hold more local budget consultations, one for each neighbourhood. We must encourage more input from residents through the borough’s website. We must give community organizations a forum to express their views. And we must make every public budget document available online so that they can be easily found and properly understood, not like the mishmash we have today.
Even though the 2014 budget must be adopted quickly, there is no reasonable justification to explain why the borough cannot solicit more feedback from the community. The lack of time is a poor excuse not to welcome more public input.
Transparency is not something to be done when it is convenient; it should permeate every aspect of our borough administration. While our Mayor and councillors may have been elected to work on our behalf, it is not for them to decide when we can and cannot have information. Residents have already declared what they want. It is time for our elected officials to do it.
Former candidate for mayor in CDN-NDG