Less than two months remain for residents of Sylvan Lake to decide whether or not to jump into the boiling cauldron of municipal politics.
Perhaps, boiling cauldron is too strong a term — but at times that’s just what it must feel like to those who occupy the seats of power around the council table.
In a rapidly growing community such as Sylvan Lake, and with the diversity of people elected to council, there are issues where opinions are not shared or where opinions of the vocal electorate differ from those of elected officials who have gained more knowledge about the town’s direction and requirements to succeed in steering towards the goals outlined.
Note that we said those around the table have gained significant knowledge over many hundreds or perhaps thousands of hours of discussions and pages of briefings about various topics.
They’ve also been at the other end of conversations with friends, neighbours and sometimes total strangers who all have opinions.
For those planning to seek a spot in the town’s governing body, it’s not too late to begin preparing yourselves for at least knowledgeable discussion about what’s happening in our town and decisions that will be required in the future.
First, of course, you should check the town’s website and find the 28 page information guide for potential candidates (http://www.sylvanlake.ca/uploads/Candidate_Information_Package_2013.pdf) that provides an excellent grounding in what’s required.
One of the things you’ll find is that the provincial government has changed the length of term for elected councillors and mayor to four years from the previous three. That’s a long commitment and we suspect may deter some people from putting their names forward.
The town’s website, when you figure out how to manoeuvre around it, has a plethora of information that will be useful in learning about past decisions and plans for the future.
Financial information, all the planning documents that govern how the town will grow, information about public works initiatives like the change to a new garbage system, details about trails and sports facilities, community service programs and much more are within a computer search. Bulky agenda packages and minutes of past meetings are all available online in pdf format.
Then, of course, you should be attending meetings, such as the open house tonight on the draft Municipal Development Plan (the overarching plan for future development and redevelopment in town) at the community centre, council meetings (the next one is August 26 at 5:30 p.m.) and Municipal Planning Commission meetings (August 6 and 19 at 6 p.m.).
Talk to some of the current councillors and learn about the work load. Talk to friends and neighbours if you’re interested and find out what they think.
Think about what you can offer and then consider a campaign platform.
Finally, make your decision. If you’re planning to run, give us a call and we’ll announce your candidacy. Then be prepared for an action-packed scramble until election night October 21st.