Voting in elections is the foundation of democracy.
In the last few civic elections for Powell River the turnout was estimated to be somewhere in the 40-to-50 per-cent range. Low turnout results in a protracted affair that does not properly represent issues that affect the health of the community.
A basic knowledge of civic politics and an awareness of community is key to encouraging voters to participate. Knowledge can combat apathy; citizens are more likely to care about governance.
On a scale of civic duty among citizenry, voting is a responsibility, like paying property taxes and adhering to city bylaws. It should be an unquestioned obligation, like hockey practice at 5 am two mornings a week, with games on Saturday. The privilege to vote should be embraced—if not for betterment of the community as it is presently managed, but in order to lay a positive foundation for the future—for the children who will one day inherit the city.
There are numerous challenges faced by the City of Powell River today. The election on November 15 is perhaps one of the most significant elections in the history of the township. With Catalyst Paper Corporation Powell River division facing an uncertain tide, the town is experiencing a shift from a resource-based economy. What will be in its place has been an on-going challenge faced by the present council and for the previous two or three councils at least. The shift may be toward an economic foundation built on tourism and arts and culture, and, potentially, another resource-based industry, like aquaculture for instance, where great strides are being made to break onto the forefront of the world market.
It is also the responsibility of elected officials and hopeful candidates to think about the electorate and understand the demographics, to understand what the issues are in a way that engages the larger population; appeal to people who don’t vote in order to increase engagement and voter turnout.
Regardless of what the perception may be at times among voters, it is the voters, the citizens, the community as a whole, who shoulder a big part of the responsibility for what happens from here on in.
Being aware of the issues is called civic literacy. Being prepared to engage the process and discuss the issues—if for nothing else than to vote and show support for one position or another—demonstrates democratic civic dialogue and engagement.
It is in the choices made today that future prosperity is realized.