New format eschewed general discussion on budget for more curated conversation on 3 topics
An unusually high number of people showed up to a budget consultation meeting on Thursday night. (Joanne Chianello/CBC)
By Joanne Chianello, CBC News
More than 130 people poured into City Hall Thursday night for a budget consultation on social issues, boasting a larger attendance than the combined audiences of all the other public meetings held so far this budget season.
Indeed, it was the best-attended budget consultation in recent memory, likely because of a new format that eschewed the usual general discussion about the budget for a more curated conversation on three specific topics: affordable transit, increased funding for social agencies and improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
The meeting was hosted by five inner-city councillors: Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum; Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury; Capital Coun. David Chernushenko; Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney; and Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper.
They took turns introducing a specialist who spoke briefly on each topic, after which participants discussed the issues in small break-out groups at round tables set up in Jean Pigott Hall.
Although it will take days for councillors' staff to organize the ideas generated during the meeting, some high-level requests included the introduction of a low-income transit pass that costs — at a maximum — the same as a community pass (about $42 a month), an additional $500,000 added to the base budget for social agencies and speed-reducing measures such as photo radar, physically raised intersections and roundabouts.