Monday, September 27, 2010

Concerned Parents Debate a Washout

A Lesson On the Importance of Informing Constituents ?

On September 17th all 12 candidates for city councillor received an email from the Concerned Parents of Ward 18 to attend a debate on Monday, September 27 at 130 Shanly Avenue, St. Anthony's Catholic School.

My understanding is that flyers were posted prominently in the area and notices were sent home with students to give to their parents. As more than a few people commented, relying on students to remember to pull the note out of their backpack and pass on to parents in a timely manner is rather 'iffy' at best. To my knowledge no notices were in the local community newspapers, which, again, not everyone gets or looks at that closely.

The result?

Only 8 of the 12 candidates showed up. Missing were Ana Bailao, Doug Carroll, Joanna Telitniak and Mohammed Muhit. Some of the candidates who did come had significant signage and literature, as well as campaign supporters.

Sadly - only perhaps 3 people not already connected with a campaign showed up: I asked for a show of hands. (even that might be stretching it, as when asked if they had questions, no one spoke up).

After a little 'what should we do?', some candidates started leaving and the exodus increased, with the 3 people leaving, likely in frustration, as well. I was the last to leave after chatting with the OpenFile reporter and went for coffee with my competitor, Kirk Russell, and a few others. We had a good discussion about the mayoral race and what's wrong with city hall :)

The OpenFile reporter, Josh OKane, did a story on this non-event.

What this all highlights is just how difficult it can be to communicate TO our residents and keepp everyone aware and involved in what is happening in the community. Not everyone is on the internet/twitter/facebook/etc. Not everyone will see (technically illegal) flyers on hydro poles and bus stops. Add to that that not everyone in our ward is fluent in English and we can see just what a big divide we must cross to ensure improved civic engagement.

* Side Note: There are those few people in our community who strive to distribute information flyers by translating them and delivering them and trying to get the 'word of mouth' grapevines going who we should all thank. (Jack and Virginia for example)

But still, this all highlights how we must build bridges across the communication gaps in our ward to fully inform, include and engage everyone - something close to my heart, because...