[UPDATE]: Join us on Wednesday, March 27th at 6pm for drinks (and free cake!) at Joe Badali's. The event, hosted by the Gov 2.0 Toronto Meetup Group, is in support of this campaign and will bring together the Toronto civic tech community.
[UPDATE]: Many of you have asked, "Who is MyCityHall.ca for?" Read about four types of people who can benefit from this new online tool by clicking the image below.
Help us build a free, online resource to influence decisions at City Hall and monitor our representatives!
Municipalities are responsible for most of the services we use every day, but many people don't have the tools to provide input into decisions made at City Hall that affect them
Open North believes that when residents participate actively in decision-making at City Hall, our leaders make better decisions – to make our cities safer, healthier, smarter, more efficient and more fun. MyCityHall.ca will be a free online platform for residents to track, learn about, and influence the decisions of their city council.
MyCityHall.ca collects information made available by the city and makes it easy to search, explore, and use. It continually updates itself so the information you see is current and accurate, and it integrates Facebook, Twitter and other social media to make sharing easy.
With MyCityHall.ca residents will be able to:
- Receive alerts and email updates when Council discusses issues that matter to them
- Ask questions and get answers from councillors in public, creating a shared memory for voters so they can better hold politicians to their word
- Track current motions before Council and easily share them through social media when important issues arise
- Monitor their councillor’s activity, including attendance and voting records
- Read explanations on how council works and get advice on how to lobby Council
Councillors can use MyCityHall.ca to engage constituents in new ways and to better understand which issues matter. Activists and nonprofits can use it to track issues and mobilize supporters.
Municipal politics are hard to decipher and unfriendly to outsiders, but it is also the level of government where residents can have direct impact. Simply put, it is more likely that you can influence the policy orientations of your local Councillor than those of your federal MP. This means that, when residents engage, they can make sure for themselves that their local government is accountable and representing their needs. Finding the time or resources to learn about government has never been easy. There’s a world of jargon, lobbyists, and closed doors that can limit a resident’s access to decision-making processes. Better tools need to be made available to residents for them to engage effectively with our municipal leaders.
We need to raise $10,000 to cover the cost of collecting city council’s data – agendas, motions, votes, etc. – and setting up the website to reflect the unique structure of Toronto City Council. We're turning to our strongest supporters to ask for contributions. In exchange, we're offering limited edition prizes, including a chance to mingle with city leaders at our launch party this summer.
Your support will be used to pay the start-up costs of developing and promoting of MyCityHall.ca. We will use your contribution to create an outreach program to encourage all Torontonians to use MyCityHall.ca, including city councillors themselves. We pledge to (in addition to your perks) keep you up-to-date on our progress up to the launch and to clearly explain how funding was allocated.
Last November, we partnered with the Participatory Politics Foundation to lead development of their Open Government platform for local governments. This collaboration – which will see the launch of new online tools for three US cities this summer – will provide a strong base and an important experience on which to build MyCityHall.ca.
We also have the support of several civil society organizations and community leaders such as Councillor Shelley Carroll, Former City Councillor Kyle Rae, Samara Canada, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
We will work with partner organizations to ensure the website presents government information in a way that is easy to understand and use. We will invite community leaders to workshops to receive their feedback, to ensure the platform meets residents’ needs and empowers them to act.
Open North is a Canadian nonprofit that builds web applications to lower the barrier to participation in democracy. We do this using two main strategies: increase access to government information and make participation fun, easy, and meaningful. We have three full-time staff and a board comprised of five leaders with diverse experiences and capacities with respect to open government in Canada and internationally.
Since we were established in 2011, we’ve deployed a budget simulator to consult citizens on budget priorities in six North American municipalities; launched a web service to help nonprofits run effective campaigns connecting citizens to representatives; and created an open data standard for sharing road event across jurisdictions. We've also worked with local newspapers to track and analyze city contracts, and with OpenlyLocal in the UK to inform citizens of new planning applications. We're currently working with Participatory Politics in the US on free, online tools for citizens to monitor and interact with city hall in three major cities.
We are excited to bring this open government practice to Canadian municipalities but we need your help! You can learn more about how Open North is funded on our website.
The code behind the MyCityHall.ca platform will be made open source, meaning that anyone across the country can bring these important tools to their own community. Its information will be made available through an API, meaning other developers can use its information to create new, innovative tools for Torontonians.
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