Municipal government is the closest level of government for taxpayers, and the decisions that are made directly affect citizens on a day-to-day basis. Communication between City Hall and the residents of St. Catharines should be of the utmost importance, and it should go in both directions. Sadly, this does not always appear to be the case.
While attending City Council meetings, I have seen numerous residents arrive to ask questions about actions the City is contemplating implementing; is in the process of implementing; or has already taken. Any resident who takes the time to come to a City Council meeting obviously cares about what is going on in their community – how is it that they are unable to find the information about what is going on down the street from them? Why isn’t the information easy for them to get?
By the same token, in conversations with residents in Ward 4, a regular complaint is that no one is listening to their concerns. The flooded street on Mildred Ave. every time the rain comes, the tree issues on Fawell Ave. after a windstorm – no one seems to be listening at City Hall when residents call and complain.
City Council recently eliminated the City page in the St. Catharines Standard where public announcements for meetings and other municipal information was relayed to residents. The argument was that, in a technological era, people could go online to get their information. This attitude ignores two basic problems: first, there are many people in our city who are not comfortable with newer forms of technology (or don’t have access to the technology in the first place) and might not know how to access it; and second, to know what information you want, you first need to know what you’re looking for. By eliminating a major tool of communication with local residents, City Hall has made it harder for the people it serves to find out what is happening in St. Catharines.
As a City Councillor, I will be committed to regular, monthly Ward meetings with citizens to explain what is going on in St. Patrick’s Ward – upcoming projects, public meetings, new bylaws, on-going concerns, etc… These meetings will not be one-way, however; I also want to hear from local residents about what their concerns are, and where they think City Council should be setting St. Catharines’ priorities
Municipal government impacts each of us everyday, and we should not have to fight to find out what it is doing, or give our opinion on what needs to get done.