Oh, City of Brantford (Tina Draycott)

Oh, City of Brantford…I love you so. Except for when there is change, of any kind, and then you become flat-out unruly. I realize that implementing new things can be hard, but make no mistake Brantford: when changes are made, concern and/or criticism will follow. You know that. You are, after all, 137 years old and have been around the block a few times. But, the good people that call you home can sometimes be very polarizing when it comes to ‘new’ or ‘replacing the old’. Some people look for answers; inevitably others will look for blame.

Often I will hear someone ask ‘how did this issue happen?’ The easy reply is that it’s been happening, and if this issue wasn’t something you were interested in before, why the heck is it something you are so passionate about now? The cold bare facts are that we elect people to speak and make decisions on our behalf. We require leadership as a community and, knowing this, we look for the best leaders that we can for our Council, and various Trustee Boards. THIS IS WHAT WE DO WHEN WE VOTE.

In a perfect world those officials would seek our (community) input on decisions that will affect us in our backyards. Sometimes City matters roll out in a way we like…and sometimes they do not.  We live in a democracy and that is just the way it works.

There will be times that the City will do something that the community just doesn’t like. That is fair. Although we must support our officials, we are not forced to always like the outcome. And if it so happens we have questions, we should also feel that we can have our concerns answered respectfully, and sometimes repeatedly, until the right information gets through. Open, respectful dialogue is the best way to gauge your success as an official in this City…and beyond. But it’s not just of our elected officials we should demand this, but our committee members, our neighbours, and our friends as well.

Furthermore, we citizens have to realize that until we get involved, the politicians cannot fully comprehend what is on the hot list of importance for our community. They will make the choices and move in the direction they believe is right for the City unless they hear otherwise, and that voice cannot be left until an election. Integrate yourself now, with the things you find important. Major upsets will plop down firmly on each of our individual doorsteps unless we make the conscious decision to have our voice heard – during the process and not just after.

Questioning does not always imply wrongness…it simply means there is a call for dialogue. Open dialogue most often will clear up misconceptions or confusion and provides additional data for us all to process further. If the citizens of this City feel they will be heard then our community on the whole will benefit. So a respectful, open dialogue must be retained, and returned in kind, without exception. It is the life blood of any community. It keeps everything active. If you aren’t willing to have your comment or decision explored, then never, ever, sign your name on the dotted line. Additionally, to those who use pseudonyms or anonymous internet names in the comment sections of the local online newspapers, emails, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; if you cannot stand by your own words, if you must hide behind a nom de plume, then your comments are worth nothing. You do the community no favours. You are no friend of either your neighbour or your elected official when you spew vitriol indiscriminately. All you do is bring negativity where none is warranted. Be proud of your words. If your words do not give you pride, then perhaps they are words you should not be using.

Living in an amazing City such as this we must work together. We have to be involved. We must put ourselves out there and we cannot be afraid to be bullied by anyone, whether we are in a position of power, or the lady who has simply chosen to live here most of her life. Brantford will never be ‘fixed’ because a healthy community is always a work in progress – and good process is almost always good progress. Real, constructive, open dialogue by all involved is a big part of a healthy community. And frankly, any 137 year old should know that by now.

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