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Archive for November 14th, 2008

Tomorrow we vote for our municipal representatives. The Capital Region District (CRD) on Vancouver Island has a total population of about 325,000… similar to a city like St. Catharines, Ontario. However, St. Catharines has a single municipal government while the CRD has thirteen. THIRTEEN! Thirteen mayors and city councils as well as a set of CRD directors trying to look after central services like water supply and sewage treatment. There are multiple local police forces, including the RCMP in several of the cities, as well as multiple fire departments. There is so much overlap and redundancy that the mind boggles.

This leads to some bizarre inequalities. Some of the municipalities are almost entirely rural and have no industrial or commercial tax base. Problems of homelessness, drug abuse and crime are focused in the urban centres that are represented by Victoria and Esquimalt. We live in Saanich which is the most populous of the thirteen. Saanich has a large suburban population and lots of rural acres too. Development is a huge issue. It’s a constant struggle between those who would like to pave everything and those who would not want anything, anywhere changed, ever.

I have never voted municipally before. However, I am civic minded. I have never missed voting in a Federal or Provincial election since I have been eligible. But I have never had enough interest to determine a preference municipally. I think it’s because I haven’t had any issues. My taxes are reasonable. Our water is clean and even tastes wonderful right out of the tap. The toilet flushes and what got flushed does not return. So, there doesn’t seem to be any need for concern or interest.

We have been election happy lately. We voted federally in October, the US voted last week and BC will vote provincially in May. With this confluence of elections I’ve decided to make it a triple crown and vote in our municipal elections too. So, how was I to do this with some credibility or at least a methodology? I picked an issue of interest to me and decided to vote based on that issue. I am in favour of legalizing secondary suites in residential homes in Saanich. I believe that, properly regulated, they will help provide affordable housing. I decided to vote for any of the politicians that are supportive of legalizing secondary suites. However, this gets a little difficult because this issue has become almost motherhood… all the politicians are in favour of this to some degree. So, I had to examine how “enthusiastic” they each seemed in their campaign literature. This finally yielded a short list and that is what I am taking to the polling booth tomorrow.

I feel grateful that I live in Saanich because I am dealing with 2 candidates running for mayor and 11 candidates running for 8 councilor positions. In the City of Victoria 7 candidates are running for mayor and 35 (you read that right… 35) are chasing 8 councilor seats. There are lots of obvious fringe candidates but still… how can you make a decision? I have pity for the voters in Victoria and have some empathy for those who will not vote because of sheer overload.

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Winston Churchill

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