Learning More About Government
Just like people, communities have basic needs which must be met if they are to function properly.
Imagine what it would be like if there was no-one to make laws and ensure they were obeyed, to look after old and sick people, to plan where buildings should go or to keep the environment clean and safe. Imagine living in a town where the local park was not mowed, the roads were not maintained and there were no Arena or Fire Department.
We depend on governments to take care of these things.
In school, you may have studied civics and learned about government. You probably know that there is a federal government that serves all of Canada.
You may even know that there is a provincial government that serves the entire province of British Columbia.
Some of the things you need or want in your neighborhood are taken care of by a different kind of government, called local or municipal government. Each city, village and town in British Columbia has its own Mayor and Councillors.
Here, we’re going to tell you about the District of Stewart government. Municipal government is really important because we deal with the things that affect you each and every day. The District of Stewart is responsible for providing police protection and fire rescue services. We make sure you have parks to play in and we offer special programs like Picnics at the Boardwalk.
It’s important to know what people need and understand what their problems are. For this reason, people who live in Stewart are asked to vote for people (called elected officials) to represent them when important decision are made. Stewart residents elect a Mayor and six Councillors to make the decisions that affect our town.
Let’s take an example - you want a new board skate park in the town. What would you do? You could contact an elected official, either the Mayor or a District Councillor, and tell that person what you think.
Now that you’ve told a member of Council what you think, he or she takes a look at all the other things that have been asked for by other people who live in the own. He or she attends meetings to discuss these things. The meetings are called Council meetings, and they usually take place twice a month. You may attend these meetings. Together, the Mayor and Councillors talk about all the things that need to be done, and they vote on those that seem to be the most important and in the best interest of the community at large.
So why doesn’t everything you ask for get done? That’s a really difficult thing, because the town has a budget, just like you may have an allowance. If your allowance is only $5.00 a week, and you have a list of things you want to buy that equals $10.00, you have to make some decisions, right? Same thing with the town. The town tries to do as much as we can with the money we have.
Where does the money come from? Much of our budget comes from taxes. Taxes are collected on things you buy or own. If your parents own a house in Stewart, they pay property taxes. And this is the money that is used to pay for the services the municipal government provides to you like the parks, Arena, police protection, garbage collection, safe drinking water and much more.
Once the decisions are made about what the town must do, there are many people who work hard to make sure it all gets done. In Stewart, there are civic employees, who work as firefighters, equipment operators, accounting clerk, administration support staff, and much more. These people all work under the direction of the Chief Administrative Officer, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of our municipal government. That’s a big job!
Let’s summarize what we've learned:
What is the official name of Stewart government? The District of Stewart
Who votes for the Mayor? Any resident of the District of Stewart is eligible to vote
Who is our Mayor? Galina Durant
How often does Council meet? Twice a month
Where does most of the money come from to pay for District services? The District budget, which is made up of tax revenue and other money.
Who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of our municipal government? The Chief Administrative Officer
How can I get involved in my town? Participate in Council meetings, find out what's going on and volunteer. Click here to find out more.
Who do you contact if you are interested in getting more information about the District of Stewart? 250-636-2251 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to spend some time in Mayor’s office and learn more about your local government daily operations? Make an arrangement with the Mayor.