Torontonians can have an impact on City Hall decisions
Every month, City Council Committees meet and discuss a wide variety of issues. Torontonians can make a short 5-minute speech, called a deputation, on most issues. By making a deputation, you are providing Councillors with your perspective or the perspective of an organization you represent. The goal is to convince Councillors to take your thoughts, concerns and ideas into account.
Preparing and making a deputation is actually quite simple. Below are some steps you can follow to get Councillors to pay attention to your deputation.
Step 1: Sign up to depute
- Find the City Council Committee you want to speak to and contact the Committee Clerk to let them know what item you want to speak on.
Step 2: Write your speech
- Have a very clear and simple message (the "ask") that you can say in one line. Typically, it's either asking Councillors not to do something or asking them to do something they aren't planning to do.
- Remember, the “ask” must be something Councillors have the power to do. Asking something that only Provincial or Federal governments control, doesn't help your cause.
- If you are asking them to do something new, you must make it clear there is a problem that requires your solution.
- Tell a story, ideally one that involves you and your community, that shows what problem the “ask” will solve.
- Keep it simple and don't say anything that isn't true.
- Don’t insult anyone (eg. staff, other stakeholders, politicians).
- Be sure you can make your speech in under 5 minutes (eg. no more than 700 words)
Step 3: Practice
- Read your speech out loud, preferably in front of someone you trust who understands your issue.
- Ask them for feedback to make sure you are being clear and concise. Revise, if needed.
Step 4: Print two copies
- Take two copies of your final speech: one to read from and a second one to give to the committee.
Step 5: Deliver your deputation
- The day before, contact the Committee Clerk and ask what time you might be speaking.
- Arrive on time at the correct Committee room. Go to the table with all the agenda items and find the list of names of speakers. Find out where you are on the list and then be prepared to wait. Sometimes you may have to sit around for a few hours before the Committee gets to your issue.
- When your time comes to speak, be calm. It's okay to have passion but try not to get angry.
- Don't ramble.
Step 6: Answering questions from councillors
- Councillors may ask you questions after you have delivered your deputation. Most of the time, the point will be to better understand what you said.
- Councillors may ask questions you cannot answer or don't want to answer. Only answer questions you feel comfortable answering.
Find out when you can depute
Community members can depute on specific issues in front of a Council Committee or a Subcommittee. To find a list of upcoming meetings, visit the Toronto City Council and Committees Meetings, Agendas and Minutes website. To stay up-to-date on issues and on opportunities to depute, sign up for Council Watch, the TEA email newsletter.