Speaking At Council Meetings

Speaking at council meetings — it's called "making a delegation" — is the best way to get the message to councillors. It shows them that you care enough about the issue to take time off work, arrange for daycare or change your plans for the day.

Register to speak at the June 24th Council meeting:
Register by Monday morning June 22nd 9:00am
By phone 905-668-7711 (toll free 1-800-372-1102) or by email clerks@durham.ca

Prepare your talk

It can be intimidating to speak in council chambers but with a bit of preparation, you can do it.

  • Be yourself. Speak from the heart. Say you're concerned about pollution, health, kids, global warming, taxes, or whatever it is you are concerned about. Talk about people who matter to you — children, grandchildren, relatives, friends — or pick a topic you are familiar with.
  • Bring a photo of a loved one (son, daughter, nephew, niece...) and show it while you speak on their behalf.
  • Write out your delegation comments ahead of time, in large easy to read print. It's OK to read from the podium. A 10 minute talk takes up 2 to 2.5 pages single spaced at 12 pt.
  • You have up to 10 minutes but you don't need to take all the time. The chairman will interrupt you at the 10 minute mark.
  • The standard opening greeting goes something like this: "Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, staff, media and members of the public present, good morning (or afternoon, or evening). My name is... and I am a resident of..."
  • Rehearse your talk beforehand to be more confident. Time yourself to make sure you don't go overtime.
  • If this is your first delegation, we don't recommend you use Powerpoint unless you are experienced addressing a larger audience. If you wish to use a Powerpoint presentation, make sure you have it ready on a memory stick or CD-R. Give it to the booth operator (top of the stairs) before the meeting starts.

Be ready for questions
Be prepared for aggressive questions from councillors who are strong supporters of the incinerator project. They ask them to rattle you, or show you don't know what you're talking about. Be prepared for questions that attempt to elicit a yes or no answer, but those questions are not necessarily aggressive. Opponents to incineration may ask the yes or no question to use the question as a platform to make a point for a larger audience. But don't be surprised if there are no questions at all — some councillors may just prefer to speed throught the meeting.

Here are some suggestions:

So do you prefer a landfill instead instead of an incinerator?
Incineration usually means burning and usually dumping ash in a landfill. The answer is to generate less waste in the first place, reduce, reuse, compost and recycle. An incinerator doesn't address the 3Rs because it has to be fed 24x7. We might even have to import garbage to make our quota.
What if we re-opened the landfill near where you live?
It takes years to do an EA study on a new landfill or reopening an old one. This is a red herring. Point out instead that the incinerator will generate ash which requires disposal. Currently, the plan is to send to a dump in New York State, near Niagara Falls or Lewiston.
"Did you know that...?" or "Are you aware...?"
Do not feel compelled to reply with a yes or no answer, qualify your comments if required. Use the time to repeat your main point again.

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