The newly formed Pontiac Residents’ Forum provides a place where residents of the Municipality of Pontiac can have conversations about issues that matter to them and to the community. One of the hallmarks of a healthy, vibrant community is public discourse. People who care enough to tear themselves away from their fireplaces on a winter evening to attend Council meetings or who put time and effort into researching policies and ideas so as to help others make informed decisions. We hope this space will help people share their thoughts and ideas.
Given the importance of resident engagement in civic life, I was saddened to read Lynne Lavery’s article in this week’s Pontiac Journal. Residents have been expressing concern that articles in the Journal relating to the Municipality of Pontiac have showed a bias in favour of the current Mayor. To her credit, Ms Lavery investigated the specific concerns in some depth. But she missed the point, residents raised concerns about public notification of the meeting to adopt the budget, this is the story, not that interpretations of the Municipal Code differ. Some residents are growing increasingly concerned about the veracity of what is said at Council meetings and what is reported in the Pontiac Journal. This should not have been a long published article, disparaging people for speaking up. It should have been a wake-up call.
Transparency and good information build trust. Dismissing residents’ concerns as though they were naughty schoolchildren, just builds cynicism and suspicion.
Why do I care? Public questioning of government decisions is a vital component of our democracy. It makes every action better. I believe in public participation in decisions that affect us all. I think that the rationales and hard data supporting Council decisions should be publicly available, and mostly I want residents’ ideas about how to make our community a better place to live, to be nurtured and mulled over, and eventually acted upon.
What do you think?
Come to the Forum des Résidents de PONTIAC - PONTIAC Residents Forum facebook page and join in.