A lesson in localism: The importance of ratepayers meetings


To the Editor:

I have always been inclined to follow politics so I was embarrassed when I realized I’ve never actually attended a ratepayers meeting. So last Monday I made the trek to the old Bayview Schoolhouse to take part in my democratic duty as a resident of District 3. I was pleasantly surprised to see over 20 people attend the meeting. In fact, Warden Robert Parker made note of this fact and wished that his own ratepayers meeting could be this well attended.

Some people either don’t know enough or aren’t interested about municipal politics. This is unfortunate as the more local the politics the more it affects you on a personal level. Some may say that municipal politics or government isn’t as “important” as the provincial or federal levels. I think this is wildly inaccurate. After being at a meeting where 25 people discussed, voted upon, and disbursed over $25,000 in funding — I ask you — at what other level of government do you have such personal control over your own tax money? You can see this tax money much easier in action as well. You can see the new gravel at the closest cemetery, the new light at the formerly dark intersection down the road, or the new equipment at the fire department making it easier for them to protect your family and property.

If you feel like you “aren’t knowledgeable enough” or will “be out of place,” I assure you that the only way to learn more about these meetings is to actually attend! For instance, I learned what the “Sheep Valuer” is in the community. However, I’m not going to tell you what one is — you’ll have to find out for yourself at the next ratepayers meeting!

I urge you to take more time to reflect on your municipal government and to also attend your own ratepayers meeting. It may just be the most democratic thing you do this year.

Brendan J. Nichol

Central Caribou