Community Engagement Charter
Read the Burlington Community Engagement Charter.
City of Burlington approves its first community engagement charter
April 11, 2013 — Burlington City Council has unanimously endorsed the first Burlington Community Engagement Charter aimed at making this city’s government more accessible to, and involved with, the people it serves.
The charter is the product of 16 months of intense work by a team of citizens and some city staff, led by the city’s public involvement co-ordinator.
“It is my pleasure to join my colleagues on council in whole-heartedly approving Burlington’s first community engagement charter,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “When I see the work of these dedicated Burlington residents, it becomes clear why we are one of Canada’s best cities. This charter will resonate with our community for many years to come.”
The charter states that engaging people on issues that affect their lives and their city is “a key component of democratic society. Public involvement encourages participation, actions and personal responsibility.”
The goal of community engagement is to lead to more informed and, therefore, better decision-making, the charter states.
The city’s public involvement co-ordinator, Christine Iamonaco, led the charter team, working with a variety of citizens that include Gloria Reid, John Searles, Steve Surya, former members of council and former citizen of the year John Boich, now deceased. The charter will now be used by City Council to guide engagement and focus on customer-first service.
“I would like to personally thank council for its support of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter,” Iamonaco said. “I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding team that has surpassed my expectations. I wish to thank everyone who made a contribution, either directly on the team or through the more than 1,000 touch points the team made into the community.”
The charter approved by City Council includes commitments made by both City Council on behalf of the City of Burlington and by the engagement charter team on behalf of the community. The charter also indicates that there is a spectrum of citizen engagement, ranging from informing residents of city decisions to collaborating with residents and fully involving them in decision-making.
“This community engagement charter is a positive step forward for the City of Burlington,” said John Searles, one of the members of the engagement charter team. “I feel strongly that my colleagues around the table have produced a charter document we can all embrace and be proud of.”
Comments from the Community Engagement Charter Team
“When I joined the civic engagement charter team what really motivated me was the overwhelming response by so many people to become a part of it. That showed the strong commitment and team spirit of Burlington citizens towards developing this challenging initiative. The next step is its implementation through a strong action plan and ongoing monitoring to measure its success.”—Mike H.
“For over a year, the charter was rewritten in exacting detail to afford all citizens the opportunity for community engagement in participatory democracy. Thanks to everyone who has given so selflessly of their time, dedicated to the enrichment of Burlington civic life. You have made it a truly rewarding experience to share.” –Joan T.
“This is a great vision for our city.”—Dave B.
“It has been quite a ride to get the charter together. We got to meet people from all venues from the Mayor (Rick Goldring) to simply concerned citizens. Some of the latter joined the team, and that was the greatest part. I am glad I volunteered some time for this community project. Thank you to City Council and the co-ordinator who have brought the charter to fruition. The process was an engagement in itself.”—Julien M.
“The charter team represented true citizen engagement at its best.”—Barry H.
“There’s many a slip ‘tween the cup and the lip.’ Development of the charter was an excellent citizen and staff initiative and is very much in line with the Shape (Burlington) Report. Speedy implementation of the Charter will require considerably more effort, and true support from citizens, staff and council.”—Chris W.
“What a pleasure it was meeting so many driven, committed residents of Burlington. I look forward to seeing much more of this group and I’m hoping that their example will inspire others of all ages and of all backgrounds to have a strong and welcomed voice in government.”—Donna K.
“The Engagement Charter is a perfect example of citizens and city staff working together and collaborating to create an excellent product. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that I was proud to be part of. ”—Michelle D.
“Developing the engagement charter was a great opportunity to meet and work with wonderful people who care about building and expanding their community. Inspiring!”—Gloria R.
“Whilst working towards the engagement charter, one of the things that stood out most for me was the selflessness of those whom I worked with.” –Yvette D.
Manager, Public Affairs
Office: 905-335-7600, ext. 7841
Mayor Rick Goldring
Office: 905-335-7600, ext. 7607
How is this changing the way the city engages and involves Burlington residents?
Nearly 30 staff members completed training and are now certified by the International Association for Public Participation, or IAP2 as it is also known. The city also included four community volunteers in the training - helping to build knowledge about best community engagement practices and building the community's skills and abilities.
Your Invitation to Get Involved
Contact Michelle Dwyer, Coordinator Strategic Initiatives, Community and Corporate Services Division, City of Burlington at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 905-335-7600, ext. 7378.
Share your insights, experiences and ideas about community engagement in Burlington.
Please send us your thoughts. Comments will be posted.
Development of the Charter?
Achieving improvement in the practice of public involvement begins with the city's newly approved Strategic Plan, Burlington, Our Future.
Strategic direction three, Excellence in Government, states the city will implement a Community Engagement Charter and appropriate policies and tools to support community relationships. As stated by a member of Shaping Burlington, a community organization that supports this strategic initiative, "the Charter is the destination, and the process to develop it is the journey." I think that developing the Charter offers opportunity for working collaboratively with the public, non-governmental organizations, stakeholders, city staff and elected officials to craft a truly made-in-Burlington approach to community engagement.
Why Develop a Community Engagement Charter?
A community engagement charter is a social agreement that defines the commitment of the city, its staff and council, to conduct good public involvement activities in municipal processes such as: strategic planning; roads projects; environmental assessments; budget consultations; voter turnout programs; and community development projects. Ensuring that the Charter has strength can be achieved through endorsement by City Council, and potentially, its adoption as a city policy. Development of the Community Engagement Charter is also dependent on citizens and stakeholders setting specific engagement objectives, providing ideas, and undertaking review of the Charter's implementation.
Background Information - Creating an Engaged Community: Shape Burlington, April 2010
In April of 2010, the Shape Burlington Citizen's Advisory Committee presented its report Creating an Engaged Community to Burlington City Council. The report reflects the views of those people who shared their opinions on how Burlington might improve civic engagement and communications with local government. The report will serve as one of the background documents for the Burlington Community Engagement Charter Team as it works to create and implement Burlington's first ‘Community Engagement Charter'.