If you have followed the last couple of years of “developments” in downtown Burlington, you’ll be well aware that residents have an increasing feeling of being left out of City Hall’s planning process. In one recent example, signs went up announcing a 23 storey condominium covering most of a large block on Brant St. south, right across from city hall, in the heart of old downtown. Residents had already been feeling as though City Hall had been secretly allowing developers to run roughshod over Burlington’s zoning and official plan, so this episode, along with several other recent baffling high rise announcements, has really angered many residents. Whether its actually City Hall’s intent to mislead, or just its inability to communicate, inform and gather input from residents, is anyone’s guess. But the sense that it’s the former is growing stronger.
Now Marianne Mead Ward, downtown Burlington councilor, has announced that she plans to join the October race for Mayor. Marianne has demonstrated over her term as councilor, that she’s a very good communicator. She has a background in communications, and has employed current technology to provide information in the ways that people like to consume it: email and video. In my opinion, she’s really stood out among Burlington City Hall councilors in that she provides updates, listens and openly shares her “take” on important issues. And she provides her views as though she’s a concerned Burlington resident, rather than as distant politician. This may be the mix of skills that would help to enable residents to be informed, heard and involved. Have a look at her Youtube video.