It's Municipal Government Awareness Week, and it's taking place during the 2022 Fall Convention of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities in Winnipeg this year.
Portage la Prairie City Mayor Sharilyn Knox and City Manager Nathan Peto are at the convention and Peto shares the significance of this awareness.
"Municipal Government Awareness Week was actually proclaimed for the first time last year by the provincial government," says Peto. "The goal is just to raise awareness of what municipal government does in your community and help the public understand some of those services and their direct connection to it."
Peto says this week, their social media and news releases highlight some of the services that municipalities and the city serve to the residents of our area.
"The importance of it is not only having a council that is accessible to the public but also having our city workers, our city employees, do everything from maintaining parks, roads, and making sure you have clean tap water," notes Peto. "Also, if there is an emergency, you have fire support. Municipalities provide all those types of services and we just want to make sure people are aware of them and aware of how important these policies are to you."
He says for a while, many residents were not so much interested in municipal politics including their elections, and he feels that's changing.
"I think people recognize that when you get involved in your municipality, it's the most direct connection you have with the level of government," continues Peto. "Obviously, with federal, provincial, and municipal, the municipal officials and the municipal staff are the people that are your neighbours and live next to you. Having that direct connection, I think, encourages people to be involved and learn more about what we do as municipalities."
He notes our elected councils often meet with ministers at the provincial and federal levels on local concerns.
"For example, right now we're at the Association of Manitoba Municipalities where all municipalities in Manitoba meet collectively," adds Peto. "We have opportunities to meet with all the different departments at the provincial and federal level, to bring forward local concerns at the provincial and federal level. So really, your voice, municipally, can reach all the way up to the federal level, and can be heard."
Peto notes he hopes people take the time to reflect on what municipal services we have.
"There's an abundance of everything from road clearing, to parks, and to firefighting," says Peto. "These are all services that are people that are employed in your community and work for the community, and they're very proud to do so."
He says the greatest highlight of their efforts includes the great local staff that makes it all work together.