The right-of-centre suburban councillor and the urbanist community organizer have an odd little partnership going.
Paul Ainslie, member of Mayor Rob Ford’s inner circle from Scarborough East, must like where Dave Meslin, of the Toronto Public Space Committee, is going with The Fourth Wall, a travelling exhibit arguing city hall does a lot wrong when it comes to getting residents involved in politics.
For one thing, Ainslie is hosting the exhibit at the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club in his ward next Monday, Dec. 3 and has invited Meslin there for a town hall meeting between 7 and 9 p.m.
For another, the councillor has used his own position as chairperson of city hall’s Government Management Committee to take many of Meslin’s ideas out for a test drive.
“I am committed to improving the democratic process and ensuring we are engaging citizens at every stop along the way,” Ainslie said in a release this week.
“The Fourth Wall contains 36 policy recommendations, and I have already moved motions at GMC to explore 19 of these proposals.”
Last month, for example, Ainslie asked city staff to report to his committee in January on “social sentiment analysis,” or how the city can use social media to get quick opinions on civic issues from public transit to potholes, “much like having a virtual town hall meeting.”
Meslin’s proposals to “create a culture of local citizen engagement” (at thefourthwall.ca) range from ranked-choice municipal voting down to having simple flyers at city hall explaining how to run for office or get involved as a citizen.
He bothers to question how effective the plain municipal notices residents receive through their mail slot, or readers see in newspapers such as this one, really are. “Imagine if businesses used the same technique in their advertising,” Meslin says on the Fourth Wall site.
The Girls and Boys Club is at 100 Galloway Rd.