As our Vancouver readers know, this coming Saturday, November 19th, is municipal election day in British Columbia. Leading up to the election, The Vancouver Public Space Network sent out surveys to the various candidates asking their opinion on a variety of issues, including civic engagement.
Earlier we posted responses from some of the Parks Board candidates. Here is what the city council candidates who responded had to say about community engagement:
How should Council promote civic engagement with youth and other groups that are rarely represented in community decisions and Council deliberations?
George Affleck, NPA
We need to engage youth in the political process and empower them to become increasingly involved in the decisions about the city. I would encourage internet based engagement options targeting this segment of the population.
Grant Fraser, Independent
Council needs to promote itself as being in the best interest of all rather than the largest donors. When they appear corrupt or disinterested in what the public has to say, people stop listening. The only way to promote themselves in this manner is to act in this manner, regardless of what group is concerned.
Chris Masson, De-Growth Vancouver
Here’s my idea: through neighbourhood community centres, council should sponsor and attend free public workshops and discussions that are of interest to target communities. Topics could range from home canning or gardening workshops, to a dance or painting lesson, and they would all be followed by an informal discussion with the attending councillors. These events would create an opportunity for dialogue between community members who are perhaps not interested in attending council meetings, and for council members to encourage such participation.
Chris Shaw, De-Growth Vancouver
As above, community-based decision-making.
Rick Orser, Independent
Through Social Media.
Amy “Evil Genius” Fox
Council meetings should be mobile, held in different venues where people ignored by politics might want to go. Lobby the provincial government to allow anyone who attends a public middle or high-school to vote and run for school board trustee.
Bill McCreery, NPA
This is a perplexing problem. My own history, I came out of the activist tradition of the 60’s, has been of getting involved in civic affairs when I felt it necessary. I think there is a problem of youth not trusting the political process and that they will not be taken seriously. That was not my own experience.
The solutions are at several levels, starting with honest, sincere political leadership. Youth need to be encouraged by the existing participants to get involved. Maybe political parties could form youth groups at local universities and colleges (the NPA has, but it has not been effective). To be effective they must be given a larger role in the senior bodies of the parent organizations.
Part of my neighbourhood planning process that I will be presenting to Council includes including youth representation on the ‘Neighbourhood Round Tables’ that deal with local area planning as well as on-going neighbourhood/city issues.
Vision Vancouver (Geoff Meggs, Raymond Louie, Andrea Reimer, Heather Deal, Tim Stevenson, Kerry Jang and Tony Tang)
Vision Vancouver has reinstated citizen advisory committees for a wide range of groups that are not always represented at City Council.
Building on the successful Talk Green to Us program at the city, which engaged over 35,000 people in the development of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, we will develop new ways to reach our diverse communities, seniors, youth and aboriginal groups so they continue to have a voice at City Hall. This will include a wide-reaching task force on Expanding Citizen Engagement to bring forward options to make city processes more transparent, accessible, and accountable to the public.
A Vision-led Council will also develop strategies to increase voter participation with young people.
Mike Klassen, NPA
Vancouver schools can become more involved in the process of teaching civics and helping youth to understand citizenship and our political system. “Youthpolitik” is an NPA initiative currently active at Vancouver City Hall that teaches youth about municipal politics. NPA propose a youth outreach council to engage concerns of young people at City Hall.
Adriane Carr, Green Party
To start with, the Council has to stop holding “sham” public hearing and token public information sessions that are too often poorly advertised and too late in the game to offer any real citizen power in decision-making. Citizens don’t engage when they know a process is merely window dressing, or allows for only minor inconsequential changes or is really designed to “manufacture” consent. Citizens get angry, as with the current turmoil over “spot rezoning” of high-rise development in neighbourhoods around the city, when the vast majority of presenters express their opinion against a development but City Council votes for it anyway. If people felt that they have, and really do have real power to change things, or prevent a development, or create positive change in their communities, there will be much more involvement. Council must involve citizens from the beginning in developing community plans and then abide by those plans in subsequent land use decisions.
(As of posting this no COPE candidates had responded)
NOTE: PlaceSpeak is a non-partisan company that is not officially endorsing any candidates. We present these responses for information purposes only. It is our belief that the more informed the voters are, the better the outcome of the election.
Next up: The mayoral candidates…