Saturday November 15 will be election day in all municipalities. Some citizens might respond “So what? Why bother to vote.” Here are some of the reasons for getting out to cast your ballot.
Who Controls Your Quality of Life?
Municipal governments control our lives on a day to day basis. They mandate how many of us will live in an area and how close we will be to our neighbours. They determine where and how we will spend our leisure time in parks and rec centres. Our access to public transport and vehicles on our streets are managed by the city council which sets the pattern and control of traffic. They decide what new buildings in our towns will look like and they facilitate land for our children’s schools. They establish recycling and garbage schedules and they are responsible for providing water and sewers. And, of course, it is City council which determines our taxes.
Are You Convinced?
Perhaps you agree that City Councils are powerful bodies but you still wonder if you can make a difference. Councils must put all decisions to a vote before their citizens right in our community. We can attend meetings and watch proceedings on T.V. More than with any other level of government, we have a chance to observe and affect what is happening with our elected representatives. We can change city hall. Councillors are accessible to us. They are neighbours and are available in a way that is impossible with MLA’s or MP’s who are off in Victoria or Ottawa. It is up to citizens to insure that we get councillors who are willing to listen to all of the constituencies and who will work for all the residents..
How Have We Done In The Past?
Abysmally. Despite the vital importance of city governments to our lives and well being, North Shore municipalities let the opportunity to speak out pass them by. In the last election 23.72% of eligible voters in West Vancouver voted. In the District of North Vancouver 20.96% made it to the polls while the City of North Vancouver was 21.2%. Hopefully this time we will make a better showing, since all of the North Shore faces vital issues of traffic, density, the environment, housing and livability.
Who Can Vote?
All Canadian citizens over 18 who have lived in the city for 30 days and have been a resident in B.C. for at least 6 months can vote. This includes renters. It is very important for you to get involved in the community. While you are renting now, you may take up permanent residence in the area and while you are here, your voice is important. For example, rental housing is a major issue and it would be good to have the input of those who actually use these resources.
Registering to Vote
You can register at your local City Hall prior to September 23rd, or on voting day at your local polling station. Contact your City Clerk’s office for specific details. Application forms for resident electors and non-resident property electors are available on websites or from the City Clerk’s office.
How Can You Take Part?
All candidates will present their platforms in pamphlets that come through your door and in All Candidates’ meetings. Look in your papers for dates and locations of these. Review the voting records of incumbent councillors on your city’s web site (www.cnv.org, www.dnv.org, and www.westvancouver.net). Look at individual candidates web sites and at blogs that discuss the issues. And, of course, contact the candidates directly by phone or e-mail to discuss their positions on issues.
It Does Matter
It is often said that we get the governments we deserve. Our voting record indicates that we haven’t been taking this observation to heart. In November let’s get the people that we deserve: individuals dedicated to all the citizens; people willing to listen to diverse points of view and not determined to realize their own agendas at all costs; councillors dedicated to the old fashioned notions of respect and civility.