Community Associations Are Neighbourhood Leadership – the bridge for the gap between council and Calgarians

Here is a report on a study done by City of Calgary administration regarding the links between municipal government and community associations.

The study suggests community associations have the power to fill “gaps in service levels for Calgarians.” I agree.

When Calgary first adopted the 14 ward system we have today the population was a little more than 450,000 people. The representative ratio was about 1 councillor to 33,000 residents. In ’91, about 1 to 50,000 – ‘06 about 1 to 70,000. In this next election, the ratio will be about 1 to 100,000.

It is virtually impossible that any one person could have their finger on the pulse of 33,000 people, never mind a hundred thousand.

The councillors’ area of responsibility has gotten bigger, but we haven’t beefed up the machine to handle the extra work. So, today we’re faced with a great disparity between the needs of Calgarians and those who make decisions for us.

I like to call community associations ‘neighbourhood leadership’ because not all Calgarians are CA members, but CAs still have an acute sense of what is needed in their neighbourhoods.

The report mentions that the city affords us the opportunity to forge our own paths in social and recreational opportunities. Most times when we go down that path, because we don’t like a development coming down or we’re choked about traffic, we basically need to ‘ask permission’ to interact with the resources of the city that could effect change in the environment we live in – the environments we know best.

I feel that we no longer have the mechanisms to make decisions about our own neighbourhoods.

We can change that.

That said, I wouldn’t suggest that all Calgarians have the toolbox to make decisions on what needs to be done. But to expect council and administration to know all the details of every community’s concerns is not feasible. Community associations largely know what is needed to make their neighbourhoods happy.

Let’s bring Calgarians back to the table and once again be an integral part of the City.

Kudo’s to those admin who asked “is there a better way to interact.” Calgarians are asking the same question.

Thank you.