Have you ever considered running for public office? If not on the ballot, have you wondered how you can help someone who is running?
The decisions at the local government table create the form and character of our neighbourhoods and communities.
They are potentially the most impactful on our quality of life and that is why it is so important for all of us to take part.
Fourteen years ago, Central Saanich Coun. Zeb King knocked on my door to invite me to get involved in local government. He asked me the same question, had I ever considered running for a seat on the local council?
I live on Tsartlip First Nation, I have lived there my whole life and at that time had little connection with, or understanding of, municipal politics, council decisions about property taxation, zoning, official community plans, local and regional services.
However, as a life-long resident, I benefited from the services provided by the district. When I was a kid, I played baseball and soccer at Centennial Park. We played hockey late into the evening under the lights at the lacrosse box. Tsartlip is connected to the regional water and sewer services, municipal roads, and provincial highways.
During the spring of 2008, I learned about the role of a municipal councillor. I started regularly attending council meetings to get a sense of the job, learn about and better understand the issues facing our community and the decision-making processes.
I learned about land use, drainage, transportation planning, libraries, agricultural policy and intergovernmental relations with other regional and First Nations governments, and the provincial and federal governments.
When I was elected to a seat at the table in November 2008, I was honoured with the opportunity to give back to the community that raised me. I am so grateful Zeb knocked on my door, and when I declined initially, I’m thankful he was persistent.
With local government elections happening this October, there are thousands of conversations happening in coffee shops and living rooms in communities across the province. People are considering putting their name on the ballot.
They are doing their best to understand the perspectives of their friends and neighbours. You might get asked to a coffee meeting to see if you will support a candidate with a financial contribution, or if you will volunteer your time and ability to a campaign.
Consider how you will be involved. Are you interested in volunteering or running? I am always happy to chat with local candidates to share my experience over the years building campaigns and knocking on doors. Feel free to contact me.
If you want more information about the upcoming local government elections, please contact your municipal office for more information.
Please vote this coming October, get involved, and make a difference in our communities.
Adam Olsen is the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.
This column was originally published in the Vancouver Island Free Daily on July 2, 2022.