The last Community Conversations took place on Wednesday before a break for the summer and over 20 community members took part in the discussion that centred around this fall’s municipal elections.
Participants were asked to design questions for potential candidates and assess the obstacles that might be hurting voter turnout numbers in recent years.
The monthly event got its start when Mayor Christina Benty was asked to create a research project proposal for school.
“The reason I wrote the proposal in the first place was because of some of the polarizing conversation in our community from the last election and how divisive it was and how frustrated I was with the public discourse,” she said.
That proposal turned into a reality and while the number of attendees dwindled somewhat over the past few sessions, Mayor Benty remains encouraged with how it came together.
“It’s been a great opportunity for people to sit down and have face to face conversations about community issues and most of the people have really enjoyed the opportunity to hear what other people’s points of view are,” she said.
This year’s sessions focused on various topics of interest from week to week. Next year, Mayor Benty would like to see the event add in more specific topics that are coming up in council meetings and are generating public interest.
“(I like the idea of) having an issue that council is dealing with and having a Community Conversations event about that issue,” Mayor Benty said. “I think that we could generate some really good ideas from that.”
Encouragingly, Community Conversations has drawn the interest of several other municipalities across B.C., making Golden an example to follow.
“I think as a community we should be proud and dealing with some difficult issues in ways that have some meaning to them,” Mayor Benty said. “(It’s important) to note that Golden is leading the way in terms of community conversations and other communities around the province are starting to model the Community Conversations events.”