Establishing a Lobbyist Registry
Updated: Apr 25
EBO's Letter to City Council, asking that accountability be required of Councillors as well as Lobbyists
Establishing a lobbyist registry was one of our top priorities back when Engage Barrie was just a grassroots collective. Councillor Aylwin brought it before Council in 2019, but the issue did not gain any traction with the rest of Council. Advocating for a lobbyist registry has remained a part of our vision since our formal incorporation as Engage Barrie Organization in 2021.
Back in December, this new term of Council directed City staff to investigate establishing a Lobbyist Registry, and staff are bringing their report to General Committee this Wednesday. A copy of the staff report and recommendations can be found at this link.
As mentioned in our Council Follow-Up in December, one aspect of the direction to staff that disappointed us was that the onus for disclosure would be solely on the lobbyist, with no responsibility on members of Council to report lobbying activity directed their way. We have sent a letter to Council and the City (copied below) to ask them to consider adding this extra layer of protection to the proposed policy.
Members and the public are encouraged to contact your Ward Councillor and/or the Mayor (contact information here) to discuss the policy addition we are requesting – while this item is voted on at General Committee tomorrow (April 26), the final vote won't occur until City Council on May 3, so there is still over a week to get your voice heard!
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April 25, 2023
TO: Barrie City Council
City Clerk Cooke, CAO Prowse
(requesting inclusion on the Circulation List)
Re: Establishing a Lobbyist Registry
Dear Mayor, Council and City Staff,
We were very pleased to see Staff Report LCS007-23, “Establishing a Lobbyist Registry and Appointment of a Lobbyist Registrar” on the Agenda for this week’s General Committee meeting. As many of you know, a lobbyist registry has been an initiative EBO has supported since Engage Barrie was just a grassroots collective, and the issue was brought to Council by Councillor Aylwin in 2019. Establishing a lobbyist registry is a useful tool in bringing accountability and transparency – two of our founding values – to local government.
Thank you to City staff for all their work on this report, their research and recommendations. We are excited to see Barrie poised to join the other ten Ontario municipalities that have established lobbyist registries.
There is one small addition to what staff are proposing that we’d like to suggest / request, and that is to include a layer of accountability and responsibility for any Public Office Holder (member of Council or City Official) when meeting with lobbyists (or potential lobbyists), much as the City of Burlington implemented in January, 2022 (a link to their policy can be found at https://www.burlington.ca/en/council-and-city-administration/resources/Corporate-Policies/Lobbyist-Registration.pdf).
Section 5 of Burlington’s Lobbyist Registration Policy specifies that a Public Office Holder is responsible for advising any individuals intending to lobby, of the City’s policy. As well, a Public Office Holder is not to engage in any lobbying-related communication with anyone who has not filed a registration. This added clause makes it clear that all are responsible for ensuring this policy is adhered to, and ensures a “level playing field” for all.
We ask that a similar clause be added to the policy proposed in Staff Report LSC007-23.
Thank you for your consideration,