The City of Guelph’s 2014 “Open Government Action Plan” was one of the first of its kind in Canada. The Guelph Lab hosted 30 City of Guelph staff and councillors to discuss Open Government - what it means, its history, and how it has (and hasn’t) been adopted across Canadian municipalities.
Byron Sheldrick is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph. He works on research related to the restructuring of local governance around concepts of engagement and collaboration, as well as projects examining the restructuring of legal aid systems and the concept of legal empowerment.
Guelph is one of only six municipalities across Canada to have established a formal commitment (plan) to Open Government.
The Plan outlines four principles of Open Government for Guelph - participation, innovation, transparency and accountability. These four elements are common across five of the six municipalities that have a plan.
Open Government was traditionally linked with access to information, transparency and accountability. (The term was used as early as the 1950s). More recently however, open government has evolved to include ideas like citizen engagement, open data and open governance. These ideas can radically reshape the relationship between citizens and governments.