One thing I appreciate about living in Canada and in Edmonton is that making an impact in policies and laws seems to be more accessible to the average person. Different individuals, at various points in their lives, care about different policies, bylaws or procedures on how a government program works. These topics can range from healthcare, education, immigration, or even something as seemingly mundane such as potholes, street lights, or vandalism on a building. Perhaps the application process for a government program is not effective, or that a bill, if turned into law, can harm someone you care about. It’s important to share your concerns about the matter. There are many ways to share feedback in a more immediate manner even if it is not election time.
Here are some suggestions on how to do this.
1. Edmonton Insight Community: According to the website, the Edmonton Insight Community is an inclusive and accessible online citizen panel made up of diverse Edmontonians who provide feedback on City policies, initiatives and issues. Essentially, you sign up and you receive an online survey every month that focuses on various issues that the municipal government deliberates over. There is also an opportunity to complete surveys on specific topics like bike lanes, LRT construction, the redevelopment of natural areas in the river valley, and more. The cool part is that those who participate in this program can provide input that gets provided to city administration, usually before the wider public consultation takes place. The link to join is: https://www.edmontoninsightcommunity.ca/Portal/default.aspx
2. 311 or the equivalent in the area: 311 is the main line to contact the city for any complaints related to the programs and services that the city offers. 311 can be contacted through email, telephone, or an app on your phone. I personally have used the app to report a series of vandalisms that occurred in our neighbourhood park, and adding the photos was a handy feature. The best part is that the telephone service is offered in many languages. The link with all the information is: https://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/service-311-contact-centre.aspx
3. Email and Social Media Accounts of Elected Representatives: The office and contact information of elected representatives is very easy to access online. Many of them are quite active and responsive on social media also. This can come in handy when the goal is to advocate for a specific change in the law that may take a while to become reality. Sometimes it can be tricky to remember the name of your elected representative, or what ward or territory your home address falls under. If feeling unsure, a quick online search to know which level of government oversees the issue you care about is a good start. Once you have identified whether it is federal, provincial, or municipal, it is easier to search the name of your elected representative for your area and contact them. The links that lists these representatives are:
• Municipal: https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/mayor-city-councillors.aspx
• Provincial: http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=mla_home
• Federal: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members
While many of these are specific programs in Edmonton, there are certainly equivalents in other cities and towns. A quick online search while adding the name of the town or city can help identify specific services in the area. It’s valuable to remember that the voice and the perspective of the average person really matters. These channels can help get these messages to those who need to hear them.