About Open Council

What is Open Council?

Started in late 2023, Open Council is an ad-free, non-partisan, independent, non-governmental site with a simple aim: to make it much easier for anyone to follow what is going on in their municipality’s council.

To do this, we make information more easily accessible by publishing Open Data, data acquired through Freedom of Information requests and following Content Standards with the goals of improving municipal transparency and accountability, and increasing civic engagement.

What are the goals of Open Council?

  • Increase government transparency and accountability to push (and help) our representatives to make better decisions
  • Increase public engagement and participation by making it easier for voters to inform themselves
  • Improve government decision making by measuring how effective and efficient municipalities are compared to similar municipalities
  • Increase participation in municipal government
  • Promote the adoption of Open Data by municipalities

Promote the use of performance indicators

Base the success of plans and projects on specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and programmed results.

Promote jurisdictional scans

Many municipalities (or their consultants) conduct “jurisdictional scans” of “comparator municipalities” before implementing new programs or making significant changes to existing ones.

Why?

In 2020, municipalities in Ontario had total revenues of almost $57 billion, but municipal politics doesn’t get nearly as much coverage and visibility as federal or provincial politics, and individual stories are hard to follow.

In addition, most municipal entities such as candidates, council members and organizations are not eligible for their own Wikipedia page as they do not meet Wikipedia’s notability test, which states:

Just being an elected local official, or an unelected candidate for political office, does not guarantee notability, although such people can still be notable if they meet the general notability guideline.

Open Council is a collection of encyclopedic information about municipalities, election candidates and elected officials that can be attributed to reliable, published sources in an effort to pick up where local news and Wikipedia leaves off in the pursuit of democratizing knowledge.

What is Open Data?

Open Data is structured data that is made freely available online for anyone to download, modify, build on and distribute without any legal or financial restrictions in a way that is easy to access (eg. searchable website) and in a format that is simple to reuse (eg. tables in an Excel spreadsheet).

Under an Open Data approach, all data is required to be made open and available by default, unless there is a legal, privacy, security, confidentiality or commercially-sensitive reasons reason for it to remain confidential/closed.

The data we use is from the thousands of datasets governments already collect, generate and maintain for their own use that have been made available through Open Data initiatives.

I want to help/volunteer/partner with you. Can I?

If you feel like you have something to contribute, we absolutely want to hear from you. Please reach us at info@opencouncil.ca. We usually respond within 24 business hours.

If you are interested in tracking your municipality’s town council, join our Discord. You can help by monitoring votes taken during council meetings, conflict of interest declarations, integrity commissioner complaints and investigations and more.

There will also be times when our team reaches out to you to get your help. We hope you say ‘yes’!!!

Contact us

I’m not an MP, MPP or council member, and I don’t work for the government. I am only an interested and engaged Canadian. If you want to get in touch with your elected representatives, enter your postal code on this page (coming soon), or use the call or email buttons found at the bottom of council members’ profile pages. Please don’t contact me for help with government problems or to express general political opinions.

Questions, corrections and comments related to this site are very welcome, though! We are always looking to improve. You can complete this form or send an email.

Data sources

Open Council contains information licensed under:

Attribution

Unless otherwise noted, the original content on this website is made available under a CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

This means that it is completely free of copyright and can be used or shared as you wish. Though not strictly required, we do kindly request you attribute us by linking back to our homepage from your publication or project.

Mentioned in