Itâ€™s easy to believe that being politically engaged is a waste of time. Itâ€™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 thereâ€™s a group of people who care. Thatâ€™s harder for people in power to ignore.
Thereâ€™s another reason to get involved: thereâ€™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 theyâ€™re doing this is because weâ€™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 districtâ€™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 McBrideâ€™s rec centre isnâ€™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.