by Laura Keil, Interim Editor

It’s easy to believe that being politically engaged is a waste of time. It’s a classic dilemma: since I am only one person, what difference can I make? But if a few people decided to get involved, suddenly there’s a group of people who care. That’s harder for people in power to ignore.

There’s another reason to get involved: there’s a very real cost to not being engaged.

The Regional District of Fraser Fort George is conducting a survey about our local arenas (called rec centres, as they contain fit pits and other services as well). The reason they’re doing this is because we’re at a crossroads: costs are ballooning and taxes have to go up or services have to be scaled back. In other words, do we continue to see this as a priority?

The outreach is good, but citizens should have been knocking on the regional district’s door a long time ago. And the question should be more complex than taxes going up or services going down.

The costs have been escalating for years. It costs $630,000 dollars a year to operate the Rec Centre in Valemount and McBride’s rec centre isn’t far behind (the budget is combined for the rec centre and community hall in McBride – the total is $777,400 a year). Staffing and heating are big budget items. $1.4 million per year is a lot of money from a valley with fewer than 5000 people.

We need more than a survey. We need creativity and a community effort to make sure our amenities and services remain affordable and efficient – using local big-thinking solutions.

We need to start considering political engagement a paid activity – one that pays dividends through lower taxes, better amenities and a more liveable community.