Working together for a better Guelph: Open government – our path to lasting change

Simply put, open government means working together to make things better. It’s what you get when a community works with their public servants to improve their quality of life and the sustainability of their environment and neighbourhoods. It’s when government is in constant, two-way communication with citizens and responsive to their needs.

The benefits of open government are often best explained through example.
Imagine if:

  • you could be part of the municipal budgeting process.
  • your smartphone reminded you that today was garbage pick-up day – not recycling day.
  • you could tell the roads department about the pot hole on your street…find out when it’s going to get fixed…and get a text message to let you know when it’s done.

That, and so much more, is what’s possible when a community embraces the idea of change that is open government.

Becoming a more open government in also a journey – one that starts with an initial commitment and develops through your participation into lasting, positive change for citizens. In Guelph, we embraced the spirit of open government from the beginning. We developed a framework to establish four principles that would act as a foundation with which to build a community vision for open government:

  • participation
  • innovation
  • transparency, and
  • accountability

To put these principles into action, we invited our community to help develop initiatives based founded on this principles in order to develop an Open Government Action Plan. We believe the best ideas come when we work together, plan together and commit together. Taking advantage of local ingenuity to find local solutions to local issues.

This Open Guelph story isn’t one we are writing on our own – it already has hundreds of authors. Every participant of our hackathon, health jam, online idea generation platforms and, most recently, our change camp has contributed to the Open Government Action Plan. This plan will contain a series of initiatives, each of which will move the yard stick closer towards the vision of an Open Guelph.

So here is your call to action. This journey works best when you jump on the bus. This is your chance to shape how your government shares information, interacts with you and makes decisions.

  1. Join us on this journey
  2. Follow @openguelph on Twitter
  3. Email opengov@guelph.ca to get on our radar and hear about upcoming events
  4. Learn more about Open Guelph at guelph.ca/opengov
  5. Check out and rate community-sourced ideas on the City’s MindMixer tool 

Open government doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is needy. It needs people to get engaged and work together with their public servants. It needs determination and imagination. It needs common sense and uncommon commitment. It needs us. And it needs you.

The welcome mat is out and our open sign is on the door.

Just walk on through.