Saturday, Oct. 20 will mark local election day in British Columbia, when voters will go to the polls to elect councillors for the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach, directors for the Regional District of Nanaimo and trustees for School District 69.
‘Super Saturday’ is anything but, with voter turnouts across the region averaging between 35 and 40 per cent.
Who are these folks who toss their hats in the proverbial ring every four years to help guide our municipalities and school districts — and why would they want to? For the most part they are a mix of everyday folks; business people, professionals, labourers, parents, etc.
What do they do? Primarily, they deal with decisions best made locally: tax rates, rezoning, transit, garbage pickup, libraries, policing — the list goes on.
Why do they do it? They are passionate about the place they live and believe they can contribute to making life better for the rest of us.
Local elected officials have been under the spotlight more than they might have anticipated this year, for varying reasons.
In Parksville, it’s a contentious supportive housing proposal. In Qualicum Beach it’s a two-year OCP review. In the RDN, it’s a sewer system planned for the Bowser area and at the school board level, the lowering of the voting age to 16.
Sixteen-year-olds voting for their school trustees has sparked plenty of debate lately. If nothing else, we should hope this change would create interest in community government at an earlier age, with that interest continuing through the rest of their lives. An upward voting trend turnout would be welcome.
Despite a four-year commitment to many meetings and enduring social media commentary, let’s hope the shine of serving your neighbour doesn’t rub off and our communities are able to find incumbents to move forward and fresh, eager candidates to enter the arena.
We want candidates who come forward and offer their candidacy this fall to be “for” something, to have a vision and be eager to change things, as they see them, for the better.
There is no more important layer of government than the local one — the one closest to the people.
Mark your calendars.
— Parksville Qualicum Beach News