Where’s the Diversity in Local Government?


Tricitites diversity local councils

Here at The V3H we’re trying our best to make you aware of the upcoming civic elections, which take place in every community in British Columbia on November 19. You can read up on the candidates at TriCityVotes.com, and you can hear about the issues surrounding this election here on this site, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter. Today I’d like to discuss diversity – or lack thereof – in our elected officials.

As I was reviewing the city councils and school trustees currently serving our local communities, I was struck by one thing – there’s a distinct lack of diversity among those holding public office in the Tri-Cities. There are five mayors, nine school trustees and 28 councillors serving Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, and looking at their photos, there don’t appear to be any visible minorities among them. Of course, I don’t know the family history of every elected official, but I think it’s fair to say there is a distinct lack of diversity at city halls here in the Tri-Cities.

Anyone who lives in the Tri-Cities knows that we have a vibrant and diverse community, with people of many ethnic and racial backgrounds. In fact, based on the information collected during the 2006 census, there are 193,230 people living in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, and 64,420 of our local residents belong to a visible minority. That’s 33% of our population, or one out of every three people. In Coquitlam, the percentage is even higher, with 39% of residents belonging to a visible minority.

I would never suggest that we should vote for candidates based solely on race or ethnicity – I certainly don’t. I also acknowledge the excellent work that our current elected officials do on our behalf every day, which has nothing to do with the colour of their skin. And yet, I’d like to suggest that it’s somewhat concerning that a significant percentage of our population doesn’t have a seat at the table. I want the people who are creating policies to have a good understanding of the issues and concerns of local citizens, with their diverse experiences, cultures and backgrounds.

When you go to vote on November 19 – and I really hope you do – I hope that you’ll take diversity into consideration, along with all of the other issues that matter to you. I’m not endorsing any particular candidate or platform. I understand that the decisions you make at the polling station are your own, and personal to you. But I for one would like to see the faces of the children at my daughter’s school reflected in the faces of the people who make decisions affecting them. As our community becomes broader and more diverse, we need to ensure that everyone is involved in the conversation.

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