It was with a somewhat heavy heart that we listened to longtime MP, former Richmond mayor and MLA Greg Halsey-Brandt explain why he won't be seeking re-election in the Nov. 19 civic election.
His reasons seemed to support the adage - you can't change city hall.
He spoke of corporatization and complacency on city council and bemoaned the fact he could get almost no support for his various initiatives - and these weren't hair-brained ideas. We're talking things like assessing city finances, department by department. In fact, it's a bit surprising they weren't already doing that.
Halsey-Brandt's inability to affect change, begs the question, who can? If one of our most popular and experienced councillors couldn't make a difference at city hall, what's the hope for the average citizen who has a total of one vote every three years?
It may be tempting to throw our hands up and sink into a kind of political malaise. But let's not go there. In fact, let's go the other way. Civic governance matters too much. It impacts the day-to-day quality of our lives in many and profound ways. What our neighbourhoods look like, what our community centres offer, how we get to work - city hall has a say in it all.
And, in many ways, city councillors and staff have done a great job making Richmond a healthy, livable city, but city council needs to be responsive. It needs to be open to new ideas, and those ideas are out there. Creative, energetic people are also out there, we need to support them.
Richmond is growing at a crazy rate. Who knows what that growth is going to look like. But we have an election on. This is our chance to have a say. Listen carefully to the candidates. It matters who we vote for. Call us naive, but change can happen.