Part I – Background
Any city resident, group or association or political action committee is entitled to bring a deputation to City Council to oppose or endorse an issue concerning municipal governance.
To do so, the interested Party must first determine which is the appropriate Regional Council (otherwise referred to as ‘Community’ Council) to which the deputation must be made. Toronto City Council does not hear deputations; instead, the Regional Councils are where a deputation must be made.
Toronto’s 44 wards are divided into 4 regional councils which report to Toronto City Council. Together, they form Toronto City Council (the parent group).
The Regional Councils and contact details are:
email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 416-394-8101 fax: 416-394-5600
email: email@example.com phone: 416-395-0480 fax: 416-395-7337
email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 416-396-7287 fax: 416-396-4301
email: email@example.com phone: 416-392-7033 fax: 416-397-0111
Any BIA or member may ask to be placed on the speaker’s list, once the proper Regional Council has been contacted and its meeting date determined. The meeting dates and the agenda items can be found by visiting their respective links, shown above. Another site that can be used for information is the TMMIS site by clicking here.
The “Governance” page on this site lists all the Toronto BIAs and their respective regions as well as their Councillors. This information will help in finding the appropriate Council to contact.
Part II – Process
The Deputant must
- Determine the proper Regional Council dealing with the matter to be addressed.
- Determine the date, time and location of the meeting where the matter is placed on the agenda for discussion. (TMMIS)
- Contact the Clerk of the respective Regional Council (shown above) and ask to be placed on the speakers’ list.
- You will be asked to submit the name, address and contact details of the deputation.
- The list is created on a first-come, first-served basis. The request must be made at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled Council meeting.
- Once listed, the Deputation must attend on the meeting day, sit in the gallery and wait until called upon to address Council.
- Each Deputant will have 5 minutes to state their case.
(Tip) It’s worthwhile to bring an extra speaker along to get an extra 5 minutes allotted for the second speaker. It enables a lengthier presentation if 5 minutes is insufficient.
It’s also a good idea to print out the deputation’s concerns in case the matter is complicated, or enough time is not available. On occasion, when there are many speakers on many issues, the Chair may reduce everyone’s speaking time to 2, 3 or 4 minutes. In that eventuality, a written summary (having been circulated) will help inform the Councillors of all the details.
A written summary is always a good idea. If given to the Clerk with the initial request reserving your place on the speakers’ list, the Clerk will produce copies and distribute them to all the Councillors at the meeting.
- Once the Speaker’s time has expired, the various Councillors may pose questions to the Deputant or the council city staff which is in attendance.
- The matter will then be discussed by the Council and voted upon.
(Note) The Deputation will speak to the matter before the Council deals with it. This means that the Deputant often does not know what will be said or questioned or considered in the deliberation of the matter – this puts the deputant at a disadvantage as to what arguments to present.
Furthermore, you should be aware that all the proceedings are recorded in video and audio and posted on the internet. The files can be downloaded and saved for further needs. The access site is here. For additional and past coverage, click here.
If this is your first deputation, it’s a good idea to attend a Council meeting to familiarize yourself with the process. An alternative is to view the audio/video of any past meeting, as previously mentioned.
Part III – Preparation
When you first arrive, you will sit in the observers’ gallery at the rear of the meeting room; facing the Council which sits in the inner ring to the left and right of the Chair. Between the observers gallery and Council will be a table with seats and a microphone for the deputants to make their comments, when called. There is also a time clock facing the speakers’ table.
In the outer ring, behind the inner Councillors ring, will be seated the support staff of the Councillors and the various city departments. It provides the Council with background information, if needed.
There are copies of the agenda and the speakers listed which are available for those in attendance. You may take one for reference when you identify yourself to the Clerk, which is the first thing you do upon entering the meeting room.
You’ll only get one chance at this, so prepare your statement and time yourself at home so that you do not find yourself being terminated halfway through your presentation. It’s also important to support your presentation with any factual details and research available. Do not get emotional – that hurts your presentation.
Be courteous and professional and thank the Council once finished.
For additional information and details, click here for the City’s info site.
Part IV – Author’s Comments
The following are opinions and observations made from first-hand experience. Do not be dissuaded by the editorial comments.
I have made several deputations and they have all failed. If you are endorsing a Council initiative, you’ll be pleased to have your remarks welcomed.
If you are opposing Council’s intended actions, your chances of changing the Council’s vote are remote, to say the least.
You may consider asking Council to postpone their vote until further details can be researched by their staff. This strategy may result in a partial victory in that further study may help change Council’s intents. It’s also a good idea to notify your own Councillor of your intent to appear and address your issue. It’s a courtesy that may help – it won’t hurt.