Community

Published on September 18th, 2014 | by Caroline Grech

Why is it Important to Vote in the Municipal Election on October 27th?

Do you care about how your community grows?

By growth, I mean what your community looks like in 10 or 20 years, or what types of services your community will offer.

While the overreaching plans for how a community is designed and developed come from guiding documents such as the provincial Places to Grow Act, the responsibility of how a community is actually built lies with your local council, comprised of councillors and a mayor or reeve.

More than just responsible for local services such as garbage collection and snow removal, your local decision makers can approve and reject proposals from developers who want to build homes in various neighbourhoods. Your local council also makes decisions about economic development, including how much business and what types of businesses choose to locate in your town or city.

As for housing, will it be condominiums, single-detached homes, or high-density housing that has become commonplace in larger cities such as town houses? Will there be options for more affordable housing?

Do you want more diversified sports and recreation facilities?

Will your neighbourhood be more walkable?

It may surprise you, but the approval of the design of these projects and how traffic flow is managed all lie with your councillors.

Local, and in some cases, regional councillors (depending on where you live) also make decisions on the frequency of public transit or whether to improve trails and create bike lanes, just to name a few.

These are all issues that impact residents on a daily basis. How you move around your town or city as well as the types of services offered by your municipality are all decisions made by local councillors with input from staff.

Do you think your community needs more parks, new or improved infrastructure projects such as community centres , better medical services or better roads?

These are all decisions that are made at the municipal level. Don’t let this October’s municipal elections pass by without your input.

In fast growing more urbanized areas, can congestion be improved by more money being spent on intelligent transportation systems?

A budget decision like this would be made by a local council. Other budget decisions such as whether to maintain or improve a bridge or how much money is spent annually on road repair happens during the city or town’s budget process. CAA’s Worst Roads campaign aims to have dedicated funding to help municipalities balance the massive costs of these road and bridge repairs, which can cost millions of dollars.

Municipal politics is very different than provincial and federal politics because there isn’t a party or platform on where they stand on issues.

Each councillor, mayor or reeve makes decisions based on their knowledge and views of a particular issue, along with engagement from their local constituents.

This can provide quite a challenge for residents wanting to learn about what issues their candidates stand for.

But there are ways to get information. Among them, reading newspaper coverage of big issues in your local election, going to local debates, meet and greet sessions, or looking at websites candidates may launch.

More simply, when a candidate comes to the door, engage them in a conversation. Ask them questions about issues that are important to you.

Looking for more info on 2014’s elections? Click here to see our full coverage.

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