Transparency and Fairness
Decisions made by City council can have significant financial impacts on businesses and individuals, particularly developers. Councillors and senior City staff meet regularly with business people requesting help in one way or another. Discussions with developers to ensure that the City’s goals are met is essential. Mostly this is appropriate and nothing nefarious is going on. But from the outside it often doesn’t look that way. And there is really no means of ensuring that everything is indeed above board.
To my mind there should be a means for the public to know who staff and councillors are talking to and about what, while also protecting the rights of residents to communicate easily with their councillors and city staff.
In 2010 a motion was presented at council to institute an Integrity Commissioner and a Lobbyist Registry. In 2013 an Integrity Commissioner system was instituted in Markham. However, a Lobbyist Registry has never been created, though the issue has come to Council several times since 2010. It keeps being deferred and the notion has never been definitively rejected.
The governments of Canada and Ontario maintain lobbyist registries, as do the Cities of Toronto, Vaughan, Brampton, and Hamilton, among others.
In 2020 I am starting the ball rolling again. I will be presenting a motion requiring our staff to update a 2012 report on the pros and cons of a lobbyist registry. Of course, there will be some cost involved and that will have to be factored into a final decision. But I am determined that we indeed make a final decision with no more deferrals.