The 15 per cent

So how is it that the level of government so immediate in our lives in Chilliwack draws the least amount of interest at election time?

While scores of Egyptians were dying in the streets of Cairo in a renewed fight for democratic rights over the weekend, barely 15 per cent of eligible voters in Chilliwack were casting ballots in Saturday’s civic election.

While kidnappings and murders continued in the Syrian city of Homs, and the death toll in a seven-month battle for reform topped 3,500, fewer than 10,000 of the city’s 63,908 eligible voters bothered to vote.

Out of 155 British Columbia municipalities, that’s the third worst.

Third from the bottom.

The provincial average was better, but not much – 29 per cent.

So how is it that the level of government so immediate in our lives draws the least amount of interest at election time?

Urban planning, transit and transportation, police and fire protection – these are all areas that municipal governments have direct control over. Garbage removal, water and sewer services are all civic responsibilities. Property taxes, business incentives, bylaw enforcement, the list goes on.

It’s not as if there were no choices in Chilliwack. There were 20 municipal candidates and 24 people seeking seats on school board.

But still, third from the bottom.

It’s been suggested that a low voter turn out indicates an electorate that is satisfied with the status quo.

Perhaps.

But even those happy with the current administration should vote, just to protect what they support.

We can never take our vote for granted. Democracy is like a muscle; without exercise it withers.

People around the world are dying for a chance to govern their own lives.

And yet for us, we can’t manage better than third from the bottom.

Congratulations to the all the candidates. They should be proud of their efforts and accomplishments.

The rest of us clearly have more work to do.

~ Greg Knill, Chilliwack Progress