The City of Canada Bay has once again appointed the Foundation to conduct a citizens’ Policy Panel to provide policy advice to Council on lease conditions fair for the proposed use where Council-owned buildings are formally leased to third parties for their sole use on a discounted or subsidised community basis.
The City of Canada Bay has already seen the value in engaging a representative sample of the community via random selection, and by empowering them within criteria agreed by elected Councillors. In 2012, the Citizens’ Panel (CP) was asked the question ‘What services should we deliver in the City of Canada Bay, and how should we pay for them?’.
The Citizens’ Panel was necessarily ‘broad rather than deep’: it sought to show citizens that tradeoffs were involved in ensuring the delivery of hundreds of services within a constrained revenue environment, and asked them to explore their preferred balance of services and funding changes. This was successful: the CP successfully agreed a set of challenging tradeoffs and will assist Council in building trust within the wider community through the detailed implementation process.
The Policy Panel takes the process further by focusing a randomised representative sample on a narrow operational area/ problem, and asking them to agree their preferred way for this area to function efficiently and transparently. In addition it builds on the CP process – embedding deliberation into how Council works with the community. And it demonstrates the leadership role the City of Canada Bay Council is taking to integrate the community as difficult public decisions are made.
The Policy Panel will run over six months, meeting in person each month, and report to Council in August 2014. The Policy Panel’s recommendations will, subject to the final endorsement of Council, be the basis on which future lease and use of affected buildings is determined.