Another municipal election has come and gone, candidates campaigned, votes were cast and ballots counted. Ah….the democratic process in action.
Congratulations to all candidates that were successful in their campaigns, we now have a new Mayor and three new councilors mixed into the fabric of our council.
This was my second time participating as a candidate for Ward 3 representative and I can tell you with certainty that it was a rewarding experience. Candidates who were not successful in being elected may feel as if they and their ideas have been rejected by the wards in which they ran. I don’t believe that to be the case, each of these people was supported by voters, just not in numbers sufficient to win. All of the candidates, successful or not, in their bid to be your municipal representatives share the common belief and commitment to better our city.
The current path being taken in the municipal system is that the elected alone are challenged by complex issues, faced with controversial policies, or questioned by constituents.
Their role as a municipal councilor focuses on the primary piece of legislation that is applicable to municipalities, which is the Municipal Act, 2001. The act is a legislative framework for municipalities that recognizes municipalities as mature local governments with a broad range of powers. The act balances increased local autonomy and flexibility with requirements for improved accountability and transparency of municipal operations.
A much better path which tends to be ignored is the role of ratepayers within the municipal system and the importance of voters to good governance between elections, not just on the day of the vote. Community leadership starts within the people, with neighbors working together. I have always felt that ratepayers have the ability to pool experience and share knowledge to maximize best resources to assure and maintain a focus for improvements to common vested interests.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing states role of citizen groups in “Ratepayers Groups and Municipal Governance” as; No specific legislated role generally act to;
Lobby local government on issues of concern to their members; or
Disseminate information on local government issues to their members to ensure awareness
May be incorporated or unincorporated
For the last eight years the Sault Association of Ratepayers has been working with others for positive change in our municipal system. It has been proven in many municipalities that organized groups such as these have the potential to be an effective tool for municipal change. A common truth is that two heads are better than one. It would stand to reason that if two is better, more would be all the more effective.
Operating as a tool for communication, solutions are addressed in a positive environment to issues such as; traffic, public safety, water quality, flooding, taxation, municipal spending, and economic development and also city services. By sharing information on city issues we can better and make improvements as we navigate the municipal system.
The idea is to ensure that the democratic process is demonstrated consistently in all aspects of our local government. Good representation not only comes from people that can listen but also from those that are proficient at Communication, Facilitation and Organization coupled with a focused formula that has proven to bring success.
I am by habit and nature, one of those people that on any given subject look to identify clearly what is being discussed; my habit is to study the topic using varied resources, such as people, that actually have hands on experience and any documentation to be found. Leading to conclude a better understanding and if a solution or action step is required an actual opinion that can be moved as a workable solution.
I know I’m not alone in this and have had many discussions with people that share this similar philosophy whom have invested time to work out and identify, why, how and to where a focus on improvement could work and be most effective.
Now that the 2014 election is over it is time to get back to business.