The recent series in the Nanaimo Daily News offered this food for thought on the upcoming Civic Election on November 15:
Nanaimo’s south-end community has seen the impact of its local government this past year: an increased police presence to control the illegal drug activity, funding to rejuvenate Deverill Square Park, and councillors defending residents who refused to accept a homeless drop-in centre at the Balmoral Hotel. These accomplishments are a result of organized petitioning by neighbours who were eager to make their streets safer. The movement could lead to an increase in south-end voters in the fall election, as residents want to take a more proactive approach to shaping their community.
The South End Community Association wants its members to keep up their end of the democratic bargain when it comes time to vote.
“We’ve been through so much in this neighbourhood, it’s making the election a very real concept for us,” said Barbara Densmore, who sits on the community association executive committee. “People have that tendency to complain so easily, but if you don’t vote, you don’t really have a right to complain. Voting is empowering and you get a chance once to do it every few years in November, so exercise your power.”
Getting involved in local government is a responsibility of every citizen, not just for her neighbours, according to south-end resident Patricia Portsmouth. The last civic election in Nanaimo brought out 35% of eligible voters, strikingly similar to the provincial average for civic elections. That rate is “disappointing” for Portsmouth, who has worked on campaign teams at several levels of government.
“I run into some people who say they vote federally, but not municipally, which always surprises me because it’s so close to us,” she said.
“The laws and bylaws have so much impact on us and people don’t realize that.”
The complete article: