It was selected in 2013 as the #1 best place for new immigrants in Canada.
A snapshot of its social profile taken nearly 10 years ago, shows:
* Over 1 in 5 (22%) of its residents were born outside Canada.
* Only 1 in 10 belong to a visible minority group. That percentage has likely increased.
* 52% of residents are female.
* Average age is 40. That’s higher than the Canadian average.
Yes, I’m referring to Burlington:
At present, Council members do not reflect many of our key demographics, including our growing diversity.
Let’s take a look at the faces of our leadership. Here are the elected municipal officials in Burlington and Halton….
Do you see a problem, or not? If you do, and it’s important to you, what can or should be done – if anything?
Difficult and delicate questions. However, they should be asked. Especially during an election year.
In terms of the demographic figures above, here’s how the current Council compares to them. As a reminder, we’re talking about 7 individuals representing over 175,000:
* 2 were born outside Canada (to my knowledge). That’s higher than the 2006 survey.
* None belong to a visible minority group.
* Only 2 are female (29%).
* Average age is far north of 40. Our aging population is well-represented.
City Hall has made efforts to focus on social inclusivity in recent years, such as establishing a volunteer advisory committee in 2008.
I was part of that initial group, acting as Vice-Chair. Its well-meaning mandate continues to be profoundly underfunded and as a result, very limited in making a deep impact (although it does have a nifty logo, as shown above).
We should not rely on government alone in any event. It’s up to you and me.
The subject for this post came, in part, from a recent online comment made by a 2010 candidate (I was also one of those).
She referred to our city still having a “country club attitude” which is “very Burlington”. I took issue with that. Based on my own experience as a “newbie” and “unknown”, I also offered simple ideas for anyone to encourage/support “newbies”, “unknowns”, “youth” in the local political arena (e.g. social media to help promote them).
It’s very early, but other than a young candidate in Ward 4, registered candidates don’t seem ready to break the mold of past elections. Burlington is changing, but perhaps Burlington isn’t ready for political change. Not quite yet.
In terms of a Council representing its community, what matters most?
I believe they must genuinely know and connect to the interests of virtually all residents at the Ward and City levels; and they must have proven leadership and team-building skills to make meaningful long-term contributions (I put listening, caring, integrity at the top).
Ultimately, for me, it’s about community experience and vision.
As we move forward, does Burlington need a more diverse and inclusive Council with broader experience now? My answer is yes. Will it happen? Let’s see.
2014 is the year to make your voice heard, your support known and your vote count.