new year

As we start the new year with new goals, aspirations and motivations, my hope is that we will all become more involved with shaping out future.

One of the best ways we can do this is to connect with those that make policy decisions, at all levels of government. This year, let’s work to create relationships, get to know them as people, beyond the issues that directly impact us. Let’s work to celebrate their hard work and achievements, and when critical of their policy do it fairly, without tearing them down personally.

This year, get to know your member of Council. Get to know their personality, their policies, see how they represent you, your community and the greater city. Discuss with them where your views converge, and where they part. As well, there are many groups that work to make London politics exciting and accessible, including Citizen Corps (@CitizenCorpsLDN).

And get to know the entire council! Read news reports about council/committee sessions about the issues impacting your community, and the entire city. Join events like the Build A Budget sessions coming up later this month, and spend time at City Hall. As we enter the important budget season, get to know the people making decisions on our behalf.

Don’t forget that City Hall belongs to us citizens, we paid for it, and collectively we dictate what happens there. We elect our officials, and even if the person we voted for isn’t our councillor, they still work for us. They represent us, and they are obligated to represent the views of the majority of their constituents. Make sure that they know how to represent you, don’t let the vocal minority swing votes when you and your neighbours silently disagree. It’s as easy as a phone call, an email, or being really brave and inviting your councillor out for coffee. It may take some time, because they’re busy people, but a councillor worth their salary will always say yes to a face-to-face meeting.

Going to City Hall for the first time may seem daunting, but not only is it where city business happens, it is our civic centre to meet, discuss, debate and share concerns with our elected representatives. There is also an excellent cafeteria open to the public on the top floor, with breathtaking views of the city. If you haven’t been before, make 2o13 the year you check out City Hall!

In the end, council is made up of people working to move forward our city, though their visions of that future may conflict. I hope that each and every one of us can share our vision for the city, and work with them to find a future built on common ground. This year, let’s meet, collaborate, discuss, debate and dream together.