Reaching Out to City Leaders and MLA Jennifer Rice
To open up off-line community discussion and to build trust and productive dialogue, Community for Clean Water sent letters by email to all members of the Prince Rupert City Council on Wed. Jan. 16 – inviting members to open up direct channels of communication.
So far, three members have replied. All were open to working together and sharing concerns and information. Two members have made themselves available to meet face to face, including Mayor Brain. These meetings will take place in the next week or two. Even if the boil water notice ends soon, meeting with city officials can help with future plans, rebuild trust with many residents, and raise issues of concern for how this infrastructure project proceeds.
“Speaking face to face and working together can build trust, answer questions, and help the community and city government work together to solve this problem together,” said Tom Kertes, volunteer organizer of Community for Clean Water.
In addition, MLA Jennifer Rice reached out to Community for Clean Water yesterday. She discussed the issue of getting clean water back on tap for Prince Rupert for over an hour – in an in-depth and wide ranging conversation with volunteer organizer Kertes. MLA Rice answered questions about the role of the provincial government and said that she would continue working with all levels of government to do what she can do to help get clean water back on tap for Prince Rupert. This was an introductory meeting, so no specific commitments were asked of MLA Rice at this time.
Reaching Out to Community Organizations (Public Forum?)
Community for Clean Water is committed to working as neighbours to help all levels of government solve this problem together. To do this, we’ll all need to start meeting off-line and in public forums that open up dialogue and hold everyone to account. One idea is to work with existing civic organizations to help hold an open forum – so citizens can talk directly with elected officials to learn more, express concerns, and offer solutions.
“City residents are busy in their daily lives, so organizing around any issue – even one as critical as clean water – takes time and outreach. That’s why our group’s next step is to reach out to existing organizations – across the spectrum – to learn if there is interest in organizing a public forum or doing more to help get diverse community voices heard through civil conversation and productive dialogue,” said Kertes.
Community for Clean Water will soon start reaching out to unions, business groups, First Nations, Indigenous organizations, faith communities, and other organizations to see how to form a network that bring people together – and perhaps organize a public forum. This will take time to do, but seems worthwhile even if the boil water notice ends soon. There will be a need to rebuild trust and to share lessons learned from the boil water notice.