Candidates for City Council, representing St. George’s Ward and Grantham Ward recently shared their credentials, ideas, plans, visions and aspirations with interested voters on two evenings. Meetings arranged by, organized by and funded by “The Friends of Walkers Creek”, as part of that association’s efforts at community involvement, were much better attended than such previous experiences.
Tuesday evening’s All Candidates meeting in St. George’s Ward saw six of the eight contenders lay out their vision for improvements, for corrective actions, with explanations as to why they should be that Ward’s Council representative. Juried questions, prepared by the audience, were posed to each candidate by Moderator John Storm. Similarly on Wednesday evening, all six Grantham Ward candidates had an opportunity to inform and engage voters. Following the “Presentations”, the audiences were encouraged to stay and meet individually with candidates, providing an opportunity to share their views, question positions taken and seek insight on matters of concern.
St. Catharines Mayoral candidates, candidates for positions on Regional Council and the each of the four School Boards … Public, Separate, English and French … were invited to attend the “Meet and Greet” portion of the meetings and some did take advantage of this opportunity to be engaged with the audience.
The over two hundred and twenty interested voters who attended the combined meetings, are but a small portion of the approximately ten percent of the City’s voters in these combined Wards. They are the more probable voters, equipped now with insights and opinions to guide their choices. Unfortunately, the local media was most notable by its absence, thereby denying other persons the opportunity to be aware of what Ward candidates saw as issues and possibilities. While the media coverage of the Mayoral contest has been extensive, it seems that the Ward Councillors, who are City Committee Members, are budget providers, are the voice of the communities they represent, having the decision making authority to direct the City initiatives, are under served by the St. Catharines media, a situation that does not serve the City as well as it might.
“The Friends of Walkers Creek” has a proud tradition of providing such All Candidates evenings. Now in its tenth year of existence, this group is a viable force for positive involvement and progress in its chosen areas of interest and on broader community activities. A volunteer directed membership associaton, in cooperation with the City and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, the value of the Walkers Creek parks, is constantly being attended to, enhanced and continues to seek ways to engage more people in its activities and opportunities. With a major effort to engage school age children, building their awareness of nature, developing caring attitudes and adding life long useful skills, “The Friends of Walkers Creek” is a model of what is possible in other areas of our City. “The Friends of Malcomson Park”, “The Friends of Municipal Beach” and “The Friends of Walkers Creek” provide a strong “troika” for community involvement, participation and enjoyment for all.