By Sept. 4 it had been a month since the last meeting of council, but it wasn’t necessarily a month off. With the start of school, council gets back to work, to committees, and back to trying to assess our value and ability to affect change in our town.
What I have learned from business is that nothing happens without great effort and many collaborators all working toward the same goals. It seems essential these days to have input from as many sources as possible, including other municipalities. There are barriers to public engagement in municipal politics, and this needs to change.
This month I chaired the Transportation Committee. We all know that transit is a commonly complained-about issue in Squamish. I feel that transportation is critical to both economic development and viability. Now into my first term in municipal politics, I have been made fully aware of the limitations we face, and why it is an effort to make change. Lack of collaboration between groups, expense, and regional issues are great challenges to overcome, but not impossible. We need to look outside the bus box.
Municipal politics is not fun. It should be. Public involvement seems to be at an all-time low. Committee meetings are during the day, when most public cannot attend. This is due to availability of staff and overtime. The same faces show up at meetings, and although they bring amazing and diverse opinions to the table, it would be better if more people who want change show up for a diversity of opinions.
On our end, we could provide better venues and more interesting ways to engage. Perhaps opinion boxes in various places around town that ask critical questions, like, “Where do you want to see change?” “How can we do things better?” and come with solutions, not just complaints. Better and more interesting social media would allow a forum for ideas.
Many people are talking about politics not being accessible. That voices are not getting heard. It is useless to voice anything. Why bother if nothing is done? Council is seven people. We are all good at various things. We have a remarkable group of motivated and talented staff to work with. We need to be less afraid to take chances, make mistakes and learn from them to get where we need to be. We all come with our own agendas. Although we are use to getting things in different ways, if you look closely, our goals remain the same.
We clearly understand that every problem has a multitude of solutions, and takes collaboration to resolve. Municipal politics isn’t different. Become involved. Engage your local politicians. I heard the other day “if you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.” We need more people at the table.