Engage Barrie was formed earlier this year to create an equitable community, mobilize and empower people, and build an engaged local democracy.
As an organization we feel that local government has some of the greatest impact on our daily lives and is a level of government where we can have the most impact. We want to work within our community to overcome the feeling of being removed and disconnected from local politics and instead feel educated and engaged.
Many of us are new to city politics in general so are on a journey together to find out how this all works, and how we can be involved.
It’s important to feel comfortable in sharing the ideas and concerns that matter to each one of us, to make our community as successful as possible. One of our objectives is to help create an equitable, transparent community voice. We want to be a place where we can come together and understand how our local government works and how we can work with it to exchange ideas. Our goals for 2020 include developing a website and a regular newsletter that allow us to educate each other on municipal topics such as:
- What channels are available to us to have our voices heard at the municipal level?
- What are the responsibilities of our councillors? How can we work with them?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of committees at city hall? Who can be involved with them?
- What is electoral reform?
We believe that the easier it is to share ideas and understand how we can work together, the more likely it is that people, from all backgrounds, will become involved. The more people that share their ideas the more diverse, representative and equitable our municipal actions will become.
We are excited about encouraging people who might not otherwise be involved in our municipal voice. A voice can be found everywhere – talking to one another, contacting a councillor, joining a city committee or deciding to run for council.
The coming year holds some great opportunities. The Ward 3 by-election gives us a good place to start to activate and engage the electorate. We also see this as the time to begin working towards our next municipal election. As a growing city there is a need to pursue proportional representation on council and raise awareness of the level of responsibility taken on by our councillors. Ultimately, campaigning for a transition from part-time to full-time councillors – a move that would encourage more equity on council, allowing more women and lower-income earners to run for office. Be on the look-out for our first event in 2020 as we plan a workshop with Dave Meslin, author of Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up, to help us examine our democratic system.