With only a few years left before I graduate from post secondary education, I have taken it upon myself to experience as many things as possible before I’m expected to become an integral part of society. However, I’m beginning to realize that quenching my thirst for knowledge will never be possible as the opportunity to learn something never ends. So when I had the chance to attend my first City Council Meeting at City Hall yesterday- I went.
The atmosphere was serious; a large group of well informed citizens gathered to listen in on what their councillors had to say. Various issues from around the city were raised as each councillor took turns addressing them in a professional, timely manner. It was similar to stimulations we, students, take part in during debates in our Political Science classes. Except this time, the debaters were older, the topics were more current, and the results affected people instead of grades. The Key Matter of the day; the Gardiner Expressway.
My involvement in the Gardiner Expressway debate is fairly recent. As I began to learn more about the Hybrid and Boulevard options, I saw the importance of making the right decision. Being a Millennial, I am invested in the wellness of our future. Therefore, being informed on the environmental, economical, and health factors associated with the Gardiner East options allowed me to have an opinion on the matter. It is the reason I attended City Council. Preparing to live tweet the proceedings, I anxiously waited for some decisions to be made.
However, when City Council announced an in-camera session, I was immediately disappointed. As members of the city, we deserve the right to be informed and be involved in the matters that affect us. As the public paced outside Council Chambers, the 10 minute recess turned into a 3 hour wait. How can a matter affecting so many people be dealt with so privately?
Council was essentially preventing us from gaining the knowledge we need to be an integral part of society. Our need to be well informed citizens was demolished and our intent to be part of the decision was shattered. Not allowing the public to hear the arguments on such as important debate not only lacks transparency, but it effectively demonstrated the importance political power over expert advice.
My day at City Hall may not have revealed a lot about the Gardiner East, but it did reveal one thing; the debate will be a close one. Within a few hours, I was able to hear many different arguments from the public. While one citizen expressed interest in removing the Gardiner East due to the lack of use for it, another citizen deemed the hybrid a necessity as it allows him to come to the city from his home in Brantford.
Council is set to continue the debate today. Stay tuned for more updates.