Lee Friday – September 14, 2017
London City Council has committed $250,000 annually to support a Neighbourhood Decision Making Program across the city. Councillor Josh Morgan said  “This is one of the ways to give residents that decision-making power and ability to shape their neighbourhoods.” Morgan’s comment seems very disingenuous. This program changes nothing. Residents do not have decision-making power relating to issues of any importance. City Hall makes the decisions about important issues, and if residents happen to get what they want, it is by coincidence, not by design.
Even this tiny new program, despite its name, remains under bureaucratic control. On the City of London’s website, we read : “This program will allow you to propose ideas to enhance your neighbourhood, with you deciding on which ideas will go forward!” But this is not true. You do not decide. When we dig deeper , we read this:
Resident ideas are vetted for feasibility by Civic Administration, and once approved, developed into proposals to be represented on the ballot. A community vote is held to determine which proposals will receive funding.
So, if residents are overwhelmingly in favour of a particular idea, but the bureaucracy does not like it, the idea will not be on the ballot, which means you are not able to vote for it.
The Neighbourhood Decision Making Program is a misnomer. I don’t think Councillor Morgan, or anyone else on City Council, really wants residents to have decision-making power and the ability to shape their own neighbourhoods. If they did, they would not force sidewalks on neighbourhoods that don’t want them. 
The sad truth is that politicians and bureaucrats do not allow actions to be taken without their approval, and they often initiate actions without the approval of neighbourhoods. Sidewalks are just one example. There are countless others.
According to a London Free Press article yesterday , Morgan said this new program “empowers citizens.” Unbelievable! The thousands of dollars in taxes each of us pays every year is a serious form of disempowerment for citizens, as it simultaneously empowers the government. Reduce taxes, reduce the size and scope of government, reduce government budgets – then citizens will be more empowered. This is a simple economic concept which should guide future decisions by Josh Morgan and his fellow councillors, that is, if they really want to empower citizens. I will not hold my breath.
The Neighbourhood Decision Making Program is nothing more than a tiny bone, with strings attached, thrown to taxpayers. It is an insult to say this program “empowers citizens.”