Our Speech To The Ratepayer Association
Last night, I was very pleased to attend a Town Hall meeting organized by the Medicine Hat Utilities Ratepayer Association.
It was a great evening, with around 100 Hatters in attendance to learn more about utility fees, taxes, and holding City Hall accountable to ratepayers.
I appreciated the opportunity to speak to the group on behalf of Common Sense Medicine Hat, and in case you weren’t able to attend, I've included a transcript of what I had to say below.
As you'll see, we're excited to expand our work in Medicine Hat, and we're looking for people to join our volunteer team!
So, if you'd like to get involved, please click here to register your interest or just reply to this email for more information.
We're planning on hosting our own event soon, so stay tuned for details!
Common Sense Medicine Hat
Speech To The Medicine Hat Utilities Ratepayer Association
Let me first say that we're thrilled to see another organization working to improve municipal government policy and ensure that City Hall is more responsive to the needs of residents.
I’m pleased to be invited to give a short talk to you tonight - and I promise not to take up too much of your time.
Common Sense Medicine Hat is also a relatively new organization, but we're part of a larger network of municipal advocacy groups all across the province.
We have people on the ground in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Red Deer, and those groups have been really successful in implementing policy changes.
We're now planning an expansion into Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, and, of course, here in Medicine Hat.
In fact, some of you might be getting our emails already!
I should also note that we don't view other organizations - such as the Ratepayer Association - as competition in any way.
Rather, we're excited about the existence of another group to collaborate with and work with to achieve our common goals.
Common Sense Medicine Hat has a broad mission - like you, we're concerned about lower taxes and cheaper utilities, but we're also keen to bring more attention to the many smaller, behind-the-scenes aspects of municipal government.
We’re particularly concerned about Council stepping outside of their lane and spending your money on pet projects, while neglecting the things that City governments are supposed to be doing.
In Calgary, for example, Council declared an $87 billion (yes, billion with a B) climate emergency and debated sending money to Quebec to fight a bill that was going through their provincial legislature.
In both Edmonton and Calgary, they're banning plastic bags, and in most cities in Alberta, they’re failing to address crime and social disorder in any meaningful way.
These are all distractions from the City's core role.
I always tell people that municipal politics are interesting!
It’s not just snow removal and potholes - though we'd really like the City to actually get back to working on those things.
City government impacts your life every day, and it’s worth paying attention to.
It’s especially important that young people start paying attention to city politics, and our Common Sense groups are actively working to engage youth.
We are a young organization - the vast majority of our team is in their 20s and 30s.
In other cities, we’ve been able to leverage that youth and work with groups like Generation Screwed and campus clubs at universities, colleges, and polytechnics.
We also benefit from our Alberta-wide network, our association with the Alberta Institute, and our cooperation with other groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and even some Chambers of Commerce.
A big part of what we do involves keeping a close eye on things that are happening province-wide, to pre-empt some of the policy issues that we're seeing crop up in municipalities all over Alberta.
If poor policy decisions are made in Calgary or Edmonton, there's a good chance those bad ideas will spread to Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and other cities - and so we try to nip them in the bud.
We look forward to holding City Hall accountable and working with anyone else pursuing the same goal - yourselves included.
If that sounds like a mission you’d like to help us with, we have a volunteer coordinator who would love to meet you and get you involved, and an event coordinator looking forward to meeting you at our next event!
With that, thank you for having me, and allowing me some time to speak about Common Sense Medicine Hat.
We’re looking forward to collaborating with you!