Municipal Politics – The Big, the Little, and Everything In Between

One of my favorite CBC radio shows is the Vinyl Café. In Stuart Mclean’s story the main character Dave owns a small record store called the Vinyl Café. His motto is “we may not be big but we’re small”.

I recently received feedback from a resident that at a recent meeting council we spent too much time on a small insignificant issue. On a given day in council we can be debating how we are going to manage a $150M operating budget and then the next item on the agenda is how to manage a request from a resident to build an 8 foot fence where a 6 foot fence is allowed.  It wouldn’t be uncommon to discuss whether we need a new recreation facility or whether we should allow a house to be built 30cm closer to a neighbor than the bylaw would allow. This is the nature of municipal politics. It is the big and the little things that make up a community and all need decisions. As a ward councillor I remind myself that the small issues that we deal with are often important to many people and one person’s small issue can be a life changer for another resident.

This aspect of the job inspires me each and every day and it is why I feel so passionate about my role as councillor. The concept of a country or a province is obviously important and I am proud to live in Ontario, Canada, but the construct that is more “real” to me is my “home”. It matters to me that the garbage gets picked up on time, it matters to me that we have great parks and natural areas, it matters that the water flows out of my pipes when I need it, and it matters that I can afford the taxes that are charged to pay for all of this. It also matters that we have bylaws to regulate noise, fence heights and pet ownership.

We have a lot of decisions before us at Council in the next little while – some big and expensive, some small and local, and many somewhere in between. Some directly affect the whole population of the Town, some greatly impact a few and some have a small impact on a large number of people in a local area. In each decision that we make on council there are residents who care deeply about this decision.

It is important to have residents involved and engaged with council in the big and small decisions and I would encourage my constituents to contact me regardless of how big the issue might be. There are many ways to make your voice heard to council – big ways like presenting to a council meeting, or small ways like mentioning it to a councillor when you see them at a public event. As our motto says – Richmond Hill is a place that we come together to build our community. Every brick – no matter the size, goes toward building the community and in building the community of Richmond Hill every brick matters.