Collaborating with your City Government
An effective and collaborative government works with and for its citizens. It is essential that governments listen to what citizens need and want in order to help make our city a better place to live. In our last blog, we explained some of the responsibilities that the City of Edmonton city council makes decisions on. City governments are responsible for things such as public parks, our transit system, snow removal, and planning the city streets.
For the city council especially, it is important to get public input as any decisions made affects the everyday lives of citizens.
Today you will be learning about how citizens can provide input and share their opinions on issues within their community.
Imagine this scenario:
You are on a walk with your family on a multi-use trail and notice that there is a lot of litter on the ground. You look around and see that there is no garbage close by.
In fact, you don’t see a garbage bin until the end of the long trail. The litter on the ground is a hazard to the environment and makes the trail unattractive. You decide that you want to see something done about this!
Here is what you can do to make your voice heard:
- If you have questions or concerns about something going on in the city, you can call 311.
- Let City Council know what you think, by contacting the Councillor for your ward.
Maybe you have a group of friends and neighbours who also use that trail that shares your same concern. Whether you connect in person or on social media, at that point you could also collectively write to your ward councillor by signing a petition.
Let’s say you decide to start a petition. You reach out to friends, family, and community members who also use the multiuse trail who all decided to sign the petition and continue to share it with other citizens. After collecting all the signatures, you forward your petition to your city councillor.
Your designated ward city councillor sees the petition you have made and seeing so many citizens with a shared concern inspires them to take action on this issue that they may not have previously known about.
Whichever method you use to connect with your member of city council and the City of Edmonton, you are bringing these issues to light and facilitating change that helps your community.
Next, we will be talking about the Hierarchy of Citizenship. These are three levels of being a good, better, or best citizen:
- Good: Be polite and follow the rules
- Better: Volunteer and Donate
- Best: Make your voice heard for change by doing any of the following with the previous steps
- Request to speak at Council or Committee on topics that impact you
- Write to your Councillor
- Start or sign a petition
- Participate in Elections
In Edmonton, we are very fortunate to have fantastic citizens who love to volunteer time to help vulnerable populations. Edmontonians are constantly willing to help which is especially apparent during this time of COVID-19 where we see neighbors picking up groceries for senior citizens or individuals with an immunodeficiency. In ways big or small we see Edmontonians wanting to find ways to help.
When you are 18, it is always important to remember to vote in upcoming elections! Once you turn 18, you can participate in the municipal election every four years. Residents vote for the Councillor in their ward and for the Mayor. Your job is to vote for the candidate you think will do the best job of making good decisions about the City of Edmonton’s plans.
Voting is the most important part of democracy. It allows residents to keep their elected officials accountable. If a Councillor is doing a good job of representing their ward, residents can re-elect them. If not, the residents have an opportunity to pick someone new.
Remember, residents won’t be well-represented, no matter who they elect, if they don’t communicate with their Councillor.
I understand that you may not be able to vote for a while but there are plenty of ways to help your community just by being a good citizen!
To close off this blog take a moment to write down three ways you could help your community in the future!
I hope you enjoyed this blog and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns as always feel free to reach out. In our next blog, we will be talking about the types of meetings that City Council holds which is where city council members make a number of important decisions.