Sometimes, we see something in our environment that doesn’t seem right. Whether it is a road that has not yet been plowed, a streetlamp that does not light up, or maybe, a potential bylaw that you are worried about, we feel that something needs to be done. Is there anything we can do as average folk? Yes, absolutely!
What areas of concern can you complain to the city about?
It’s important to understand which areas are covered by the municipal, provincial, and federal government. The municipal government takes care of areas such as garbage collection, snow clearing, our residential roads, bylaws on various topics, our property taxes, and more.
What are the different ways to file these complaints?
• 311 App – This is handy for instances where photographs are useful information. The 311 app by the City is available on both Android and the iPhone, which is handy. Reporting vandalism, potholes, broken streetlamps, snow or ice that is not cleared from the roads, including homeowners and building owners who have been negligent with snow clearing, these can all be done on the app. When you take a photo, the report you file also tracks your specific location and you can also check the status of the reports you made.
• 311 Call Centre and Email – You can call 311 from your phone if you are unsure who the right person to contact is or if you need help with communicating. The Call Centre can provide language support for up to 150 languages, which is great. Or if you would like to send a more elaborate message, the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Appropriate Department in the City – Do you have issues with infills (when a lot is being divided into two smaller homes), the taxes for your home, or public transit? There is a dedicated department for that! The city’s website has become more user-friendly lately, and if you do a quick search by typing the words of what you want to learn about, you will be directed to the right webpage and the appropriate contact person.
• Your City Councillor or even the Mayor – From personal experience, our elected representatives or their administrative staff are quite approachable. Check your address to see which area you are under and who your elected representative is at https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/city_organization/find-my-councillor.aspx. Their contact information is also available online at https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/city_organization/city-councillors.aspx. If you live in Ward 1, Ward 3 or Ward 4, these councillors tend to be regularly active on social media as well and are quite responsive. Otherwise, you can call or email them. For any issues that pertain to your particular part of the city, they may be able to help.
• Attending a Council Committee Meeting or Public Hearing – I personally had the honour of speaking in front of the city council during a public hearing, which is a special meeting arranged by the council to listen to the general public and their perspectives about a decision they are about to make. Our municipal government has committee meetings, consisting of about roughly four councillors and maybe the mayor, that focus on specific topics, and they meet roughly once a month. There are also council meetings that consist of the entire council and they make decisions that require all of them, and they take place regularly as well. If you wish to speak in front of them during a specific meeting for a specific topic, that is possible! This link https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/council-committee-meetings.aspx can provide more information.
We are lucky to have many means of communicating with our government. From my personal experience, they actually do the best they can to respond. The City of Calgary also uses the same system 311, which is really handy. In smaller municipalities, I’m sure that there is an appropriate equivalent. So, when you see something of concern, don’t be afraid to file an informative report so it gets solved!