Petitioning Local Government

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It was interesting last Monday, listening to what transpired during the ETC meeting during discussion of a citizen’s submission to have the direction of one-way travel on his neighbourhood street changed.

In 2000, a similar attempt by the individual resulted in a city mail-back survey of residents. “The survey had a 63% response rate with 40% supporting the proposed reversal, 50% against and 10% indicating no preference. Based on the survey, reversing the existing one-way designation was not recommended.”

Prior to this latest attempt, the citizen personally knocked on doors gathering signatures on a petition. “Out of the owners of 25 houses 24 were in favour and one had no preference. Of the remaining 7 houses three are out of town owners of student residences, the other four I could not reach. There seems to be no opposition to this proposal.”

That didn’t sit well with Mr. Leckie (Director, Roads and Transportation), who managed to convince the committee that the city needs to do another mail-back survey “to ensure the integrity of resident’s opinions.”

Which got me to wondering. Does the city have any policy with respect to surveys, petitions, etc?

The city website returned 4 pages of documents based on a “petition” keyword search and 32 pages based on a “survey” keyword search. Other than a single document which states that “a petition for curbs and gutters must be circulated on both sides of a street…” I was unable to find anything about the relevance of submitted petitions, or the format that they should be in, etc.

It’s been my personal observation that Council and its committees usually just accept petitions without any comment other than to note the number of signatures.

Where does this sudden concern about the validity of signatures come from? Are there some political shenanigans going on here, simply because the city staff doesn’t like what’s being proposed?

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