Council Chambers

- Hub staff

About twenty people gathered Wednesday night in Owen Sound to brainstorm about October's municipal election.

Some were born here, some chose to make this their home. All of them agreed Owen Sound is a great place to live, but felt that this was often in spite of city council, not because of it. There was definitely an appetite for change at city hall.

This was a knowledgeable group of individuals, most of whom have an impressive track record of community engagement and accomplishments. But they all spoke of the stone wall – butting up against the old ways when it came to dealing with the city. Some had found work-arounds, others moved on to other projects that contributed to the community without requiring city participation.

They are looking for a council that is representative of the people who live here, that fosters a culture of collaboration and inclusion and supports and makes use of local expertise and research.

Everyone in attendance acknowledged that they, as individuals, had lots of options for a high quality of life in our city. However, like the majority of the residents of Owen Sound according to a recent citizen satisfaction survey, affordable housing and homelessness were high concerns. Other issues included fiscal responsibility, sustainability, food security, reconciliation and climate change.

“We're not living up to the city I love,” said one participant. “I want a just and dignified community for everyone who lives here.” Another said, “I just want to see this city use its potential.”

One participant has been collating the decisions of city council over the past term, in an effort to best understand the voting pattern of each member and share that with the public. They are frustrated that the pandemic years of exclusion from the chamber, and the inability of new video equipment to show who is voting, have made that data incomplete.

“Things won't change if you don't show up,” said one participant, and decisions are made by those who do.

Make sure you are on the voters' list, do your homework, and offer your support to candidates whose vision resonates with yours. Share their messages on social media, talk to your friends and family,  write and share letters to the editor, call the radio phone-ins and consider becoming actively involved in the campaign.