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Supporting local governance

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Last week I wrote about supporting our business community by shopping local. This week I want to address a different type of local support – governance.
I’ve been told there’s been some stir made in the community lately about the way that the Town of Swan River went about notifying the public of a meeting in which they were seeking ratepayers’ opinions.
That meeting in question was the annual budget hearing held on May 1, prior to the regular council meeting. In attendance were two members of the general public plus a Star and Times reporter who was there to provide a full recap of the meeting in the following week’s paper.
The Town was openly criticized for advertising this meeting in the local newspaper, which is still a requirement by law, and with a Yorkton radio station that has been broadcasting to the Valley for decades and has a strong listening audience in our area. Part of the criticism was that maybe more people would have attended this meeting if different advertising methods were used.
Meanwhile, the Municipality of Swan Valley West also held their annual budget hearing, this one on May 10, with two people attending – one ratepayer and, again, our reporter. I do know that they also advertised in the Star and Times as per law, but I cannot comment on other advertising methods they may have used.
Now you, as a reader, may find these attendance numbers to be a little sad. And, you’re not incorrect in thinking so. Attendance at these types of meetings is pathetically low for a community of our size but, what you haven’t been told yet, is this isn’t something new.
For the past six years that I have been employed with the Star and Times, either myself or one of my reporters have attended every one of these budget hearings at both of the mentioned municipalities as well as the school division. At most, I have probably seen a crowd of seven people attend any given one. Seven out of the several thousand people that should be worried about how their tax dollars will be spent.
My point is that I don’t think the way that municipalities are advertising is the issue. The issue is that people just don’t care. They don’t care about holding their governing bodies accountable when the time is right but they have no qualms about complaining afterward when the decision has been made.
Our society has changed so much in the last few decades and now everyone is too busy to have time for anything but themselves and they would rather just complain on social media about the people that have chosen to actually serve their community, after the fact.
No, the problem definitely isn’t advertising these meetings, it’s finding residents who will take action when they had the opportunity to actually influence change.
DGB