Brampton’s City Hall is undergoing budget talks for the new fiscal year and, in the spirit of public engagement, they have started a campaign called “Let’s Connect” with the goal of getting feedback from Bramptonians on how they would like the budget to be laid out. There will be public workshops, committee meetings, an online questionnaire and an online budget allocator, all available for Bramptonians to use and speak their minds and ensure that we get things moving on the right foot.
People of Brampton, this message is to you. We have to start getting involved. I mean really involved. Last year we went through a government financial scandal. Oh sure, we claimed moral outrage and wrote to the local papers about the woes of government but, when it came to election day, only 36% of our people actually bothered to get out and vote. 36%! What kind of message is that? Like a child who complains of bad grades but never studies, it’s nothing more than hypocritical apathy. We have to change this, Brampton. We really do. There are those who do care, who make the effort to stay informed or get involved. But those numbers need to grow.
We have so much at hand right now! City Hall is holding events specifically to make our opinions heard. We have community organizations that encourage discussion and changes in our city. For goodness sake, auditor Jim McCarter completely laid out the financial situation at City Hall in terms simple enough that even I, a 23-year-old without a background in finance, was able to read through and understand the gist of what’s going on at City Hall. We have all of these tools to educate ourselves and make our voices heard. It’s time to use them!
How do you get involved? The easiest first step would be to fill out the questionnaire on topics for the Brampton 2015 budget. It takes about a minute to finish. Maybe two minutes if you’re someone who deliberates a lot on this type of subject. There’s also a short video you can watch that explains how tax dollars are spent in Brampton. It’s simple, straightforward, and has a cheery tune that keeps you entertained while you watch it.
Next big thing you can do is read the financial report. Don’t worry, it’s not as tedious as it sounds. Jim McCarter purposefully wrote it in layman’s terms so that anyone could understand it. True, things like interest rates and financial recommendations went over my head, but I’ve learned about Brampton’s short-term vs. long-term situation, our ranking among other GTA cities, why the media claim that we were missing $750 million is entirely false, and even the details of how the previous mayor’s claims that we have a AAA credit rating and are a debt-free city were essentially a half-truth and a lie. I have learned a great deal from this report – the good news, the bad news, some things to take caution of but, all in all, useful information for the coming months of budget talks.
The best way to get involved is to take part in the actual budget talks. There’s a lineup of events for the next two months. We have the current time line here, along with notes on which ones are public-centric. These public events are all scheduled after regular work hours, making it easy for the average person to attend and give feedback. There will even be Ward-specific events so talks can happen on a local level.
So make sure to come to the events. Take a look around, talk with people and share your thoughts. Stand up at the meetings and speak your mind to council. Get out there and make your voice heard! That’s all it takes, folks. Let’s get rid of the hypocritical apathy and show that we honestly care about the way our city is run.