As an example, the City of Vancouver is currently holding a public hearing on rezoning the city's neighbourhoods to allow for duplexes. As a resident of Vancouver who has an opinion on the matter in question, this seems like an archaic way of gathering public opinion:
- The public hearings are always during business hours on a weekday, so anyone attending them needs to take a day off work. This highly skews the attendance to people who are paid to be there and those who are unemployed or retired.
- Even if they would be done on a weekend when everyone can attend, the attendance is still limited to the physical space in City Hall (or whatever branch of government is holding them).
- Even if you can somehow allow for an unlimited number of people to attend, the opinion of those gathered in the room would be in no way representative of the opinion of the city/district as a whole.
- Even if the attendance is somehow balanced to be representative, it's commonplace that only those with the loudest voices get to speak. And such meetings are frequently disrupted by unruly attendants.
So what's the point of these public hearings in the 21st century? Why not use online platforms for discussions and gathering opinion?
Update: looks like this position is now mainstream thanks to COVID.