Our View: Engaging voters a tough task

West Shore voters will be waiting with bated breath for election results on Saturday, or at least about 25 per cent will.

West Shore voters will be waiting with bated breath for election results on Saturday, or at least about 25 per cent will.

The typically dismal turnout for civic elections is shocking and puzzling, considering the gang that gets in can most directly and immediately impact a resident’s life.

Rural Metchosin and Highlands people tend to vote proportionately more than urban Langford, Colwood or View Royal, but the kind of lineups and hype reserved for provincial and federal elections rarely materializes for the most basic level of government.

It’s interesting that many election campaigns of candidates across the West Shore municipalities touched on accessibility, transparency and openness — the idea of getting citizens more engaged in civic decision making. This is a theme for many civic elections, and is much easier said than done.

Getting citizens to sit on advisory committees every month is hard enough. Getting large groups of citizens to sit through proceedings in council on a regular basis seems next to impossible.

We can only hope that the incoming councils can do more to make civic politics relevant and accessible to their citizens’ busy lives. As a few candidates pointed out, getting more information on municipal websites in quicker, easy-to-find ways is a good place to start.

At any rate, there will be plenty of excitement Saturday night. With the debacle of Colwood’s two simultaneous “all-candidate” meetings and a three-way mayoral race, that contest, along with View Royal’s heated three-way mayoral race, will be the ones to watch.

Despite few new candidates, Langford too will be interesting, if just for the level of opposition votes directed away from incumbents.

Metchosin, with a mix of old and new faces vying for seats, is one of the rare communities that regularly draws an audience to council.

And don’t forget to vote for school trustees — they steer the educational policies and programs that impact thousands of children and hundreds of jobs.


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