What is a Citizens Commission?

A Citizens Commission is a representative committee of residents empowered to study, deliberate and develop recommendations for government on an important public issue. Thirty-six randomly selected Calgarians will be appointed to the Commission from a pool of volunteers.

Why have a Citizens Commission in Calgary?

Rapid growth is putting significant pressure on the City’s municipal infrastructure. The Chamber, the City of Calgary, and our partners believe its time to take a fresh look at the City’s revenue sources and consider new revenues and financing models that can meet the city’s needs. We also believe that Calgarians should be at the heart of this discussion. We are investing in this process to ensure that the voice of Calgary residents is heard.

The Commission will consider several questions, including:

What infrastructure investments are needed to support growth and maintain a high quality of life?

How should residents, businesses, and users pay for the City’s expanding infrastructure needs?

The Commission will identify what it believes are the city’s top infrastructure priorities as well as its preferred revenue sources to support these investments.

What is the role of the Calgary Chamber?

The Calgary Chamber hopes to spark a public conversation about Calgary’s infrastructure needs and how to pay for them. To help ensure the integrity of the process, the Chamber has appointed an independent advisory committee to provide oversight and contracted respected experts in public deliberation to design and host the Citizens Commission. This innovative and arms-length process will bring Calgarians together to examine how to pay for what we need as the city grows.

What would be my role as a member of the Citizens Commission?

Over six Saturdays beginning in September 12, 2015 and ending in November 21, 2015, members of the Commission will hear different perspectives concerning Calgary’s infrastructure needs and the revenue tools that could be used to pay for them from a wide range of experts and stakeholders. Members of the Commission will work to identify their priorities and develop a series of recommendations directed to government.

How was I selected to receive this invitation?

Your address was one of 10,000 households across Calgary randomly selected by Canada Post to receive this invitation.

Who is eligible to serve on the Citizens Commission?

To be a member of the Citizens Commission you must be at least 18 years old and be a resident of Calgary.

You do not need to be a Canadian citizen to participate.

Only one volunteer per household will be eligible for membership on the Citizens Commission.

Employees of the Calgary Chamber or the City of Calgary, as well as elected municipal officials, are ineligible to serve as members of the Citizens Commission.

How will the members of the Commission be selected?

A civic lottery will be conducted to randomly select members of the Commission from among the pool of volunteers who respond to the invitation letter sent to 10,000 households across Calgary. The Commission will include an equal number of men and women, as well as a proportionate number of members to represent different age groups and neighbourhoods across the city. The Commission will also be balanced to ensure a proportionate numbers of home owners and renters, and include at least two small business owners and one Aboriginal member.

What will be done with the Commission’s work?

The recommendations will be presented to Calgary’s City Council, and promoted widely by the Chamber to government, its stakeholders and Calgary residents.

How do I become a member of the Citizens Commission?

You must receive one of the 10,000 invitation letters sent in the mail, and then register as a volunteer no later than Friday, August 21, 2015.

You can register over the phone at 1-855-987-6402, online, or by mail.

On Tuesday, August 25, 2015 members of the Citizens Commission will be randomly selected from among those who have registered as volunteers.

I am unsure whether I can attend all six Saturday sessions, can I still volunteer?

It is very important that all members of the Citizens Commission attend each session. We realize, however, that this is a significant commitment. At minimum, members must be available to attend at least five of the six Saturday sessions. Please consider and confirm your ability to participate before volunteering.

Each Saturday session will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the dates of the sessions are:

  1. September 12, 2015
  2. September 26, 2015
  3. October 3, 2015
  4. October 24, 2015
  5. November 7, 2015
  6. November 21, 2015

I am not very familiar with municipal issues — can I still be involved?

Absolutely. We do not expect you to have any specialized knowledge about the City or how it pays to build and maintain infrastructure. Your perspective and experience as a Calgary resident is what matters most. Each member will have enough time to learn everything they need to make an informed contribution to the Commission.

Will I get paid to serve on the Commission?

We are asking you to donate your time and volunteer as a member of the Commission. Lunches and snacks will be provided, and basic travel costs, including parking, will be reimbursed. Childcare and eldercare costs will also be provided as needed. However, we do not provide an honorarium or any additional compensation. There is no cost to participate.

Will the Citizens Commission have translation services?

The Citizens Commission’s meetings will be in English and simultaneous translation will not be available.

I have a physical disability. Can you assist me to participate?

If you would like to be a member of the Citizens Commission, but are concerned about a potential physical barrier to participating please call 1-855-987-6402. We are committed to assisting all members of the Citizens Commission so that they can participate successfully.

Who is designing and hosting the Citizens Commission?

The Calgary Chamber has contracted MASS LBP, an independent specialist in the design and delivery of deliberative programs, to lead the Citizens Commission. This organization is responsible for the success and impartiality of the Citizens Commission. Their project team will work with an Advisory Committee to ensure that a balanced and informative learning program is developed for the Commission, and that its proceedings are free of bias.

What is the role of the Chair of the Citizens Commission?

The Chair is an impartial guide for the Citizens Commission and a member of the project team. It is the Chair’s responsibility to:

  1. Oversee a fair and representative member selection process.
  2. Develop a balanced learning program that involves residents, community organizations, and experts to provide a range of perspectives.
  3. Support respectful dialogue and deliberation amongst members.
  4. Ensure that regular updates concerning the Commissions’ proceedings are made publicly available.
  5. Produce and deliver a final report concerning the Commissions’ activities and recommendations.
  6. Exercise discretion in ensuring the integrity and sound conduct of the Commission.

The Chair is expected to remain neutral with regards to the recommendations and direction of the Citizens Commission.

What is the role of the Advisory Committee and how will members be selected?

The Advisory Committee will provide oversight and guidance to the Chair and project team to ensure that the Commissions’ program is balanced, impartial and informative. The members of the Advisory Committee will be selected by the Chair and will include representatives with well-regarded expertise in municipal infrastructure, finance, and urban affairs. The Advisory Committee will not comment on the recommendations made by the Citizens Commission.

My household did not receive an invitation letter, can I still volunteer?

Unfortunately, no.

As of July 13th 2015, 10,000 letters inviting Calgarians to volunteer for the Citizens Commission have been randomly sent to households across Calgary. Your household must receive one of the invitation letters for you to be eligible to volunteer for the Citizens Commission. This is an important feature of the random selection process through which members of the Commission are chosen.