I live, work, and play in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh and I am grateful for the opportunities this affords me.
But I don’t live in Prince George. I live outside in the regional district. I mention this because I can’t vote in the upcoming municipal election.
But I would strongly encourage everyone who can to do so.
Because municipal politics has a major impact on the way you live and the sort of city Prince George will become.
Municipal government is the level of government which is most in touch with the citizens of this city.
For example, if you want services – a new ice rink, a swimming pool, a park, or a performing arts centre – it is the municipal government which will make this happen.
The hospital, the university, and the college might all be provincial bodies but they rely heavily upon the city to provide opportunities for their employees. Attracting more doctors requires having a liveable city.
Municipal government is also the level which has the most impact on your taxes. It is not the largest tax burden but both provincial and federal governments levy taxes equally across their jurisdictions. Municipal taxes vary significantly from city to city.
Prince George has infrastructure which is both aging and designed for a much larger population resulting in a higher per capita tax load than many of our comparators.
How this money is spent and what our priorities are lies squarely in the lap of the city council.
It is important to consider who will be the best councillors and that might not be someone you would normally think of yourself as being politically aligned with.
Who can do the job?
Who knows what the job actually is? Whose willing to accept responsibility for any mistakes that are made?
Being a councillor is, in many ways, a thankless job.
It is a lot of work and while councillors are paid, from what I know of the amount of work involved, they are probably not paid as much as they should be. Just consider the disparity in wages between the mayor and councillors and the senior city staff.
So please get out and vote.
Elections are important. You can make a difference.
Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC.