Viewpoint: Tell city council non-profits are not lobbyists!

Mary Micallef – You may not have heard, but City Council is just days away from a vote that would require non-profit community groups to register as lobbyists before they get in touch with their local councillor.

If Council approves the proposed changes to the lobbying bylaw on May 3rd, neighbourhood associations, community centers, sports clubs, and community-based services would be subject to the City’s lobbying by law.

All those groups would then have to register as lobbyist before they would be allowed contact their local elected officials about any issue, from snow clearing to community safety to neighbourhood service needs. And they would have to update their lobbying files repeatedly to maintain the right to call their councillor. If you’re concerned please take a moment to write your Councillor using the link here.

In the past, non-profit community groups have been exempt from the Lobbying Bylaw because they are working for the good of the community, not for private gain. Council was eager to encourage community groups to get involved, so they didn’t require the red tape. If Council passes the new policy though, that would end. People who are trying to make their community a healthier, safer place will be treated just like someone lobbying to build a 100-story building, or to secure a city contract.

This item is up for a vote early in May, though there has been no consultation with community groups affected.

As a charitable organization that has committed over 50 years to building a stronger City, Social Planning Toronto believes that every community should be engaged in making their neighbourhood a healthy vibrant place to live and that City Council shouldn’t put up barriers to this kind of civic engagement. We hope you agree.

If you’re concerned about the proposed changes to the lobbying by law, please use the form here to send a letter to your councilor (we have provided a draft for you that you can use, modify or replace). Adding your address or postal code will ensure your letter is directed to the right ward.