Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, is running regular community dialogue sessions. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

COLUMN: Engaging in your democracy

A foundational principle driving my constituency and legislative work is increasing public participation in our democracy. We are dedicated to civic engagement and strive to provide the best service and accountability we can. In this MLA report, I want to discuss the tools we have created to increase public engagement in our work and offer advice and feedback.

I take my role as representative seriously and so my first responsibility is to you, the constituents of Saanich North and the Islands. In addition to our regular work as community advocates, we have created a public engagement program that we call The Public Circle. We host regular meetings for the public that we call Community Dialogues. These give you a chance to directly interact with me as your MLA, and to engage your neighbours on a specific and timely subject. On May 17 we will be hosting one on Kinder Morgan.

Because of the nature of our riding, with its many beautiful islands, we realize that not everyone is able to make it to Sidney to participate in our dialogues. So we host biannual town hall meetings in locations throughout riding. Our next round of town halls are in June, and I invite you to participate.

This month I am also hosting an MLA Feedback Forum. This is a chance to give my team honest feedback about how the government is doing on a range of issues that are important to you and also to evaluate my performance after my first year in office.The event is on May 26, and I hope you will consider participating, but space is limited so please contact us soon!

Although we place great importance on getting out in the community for face-to-face discussions, we are also aware of the importance of having an online presence. If you are unable to attend events such as town halls and community dialogue sessions, or simply prefer to communicate online, there are a number of ways for you to do so.

We send out monthly email updates, quarterly print newsletters, and update our website and social media platforms regularly. We have an office policy of responding to every email and phone call in a timely manner to ensure the best two-way communication possible. We are just beginning to develop our presence on a tool created by a BC tech firm called PlaceSpeak. The platform allows for constituents to engage directly with us on various topics, participate in polls and surveys, in a safe and secure environment where your privacy and personal information is completely protected.

Finally, I also host a weekly show called The Public Circle LIVE! on Facebook where I discuss the week in British Columbia politics and answer questions that have come in during the week. We have a lot of fun in our live show and I hope you will tune in if you can.

We do all this because I believe transparency is critical. For more information on engagement events, visit our website (www.adamolsen.ca), call us (250-655-5601), or drop in to ask a question directly, we are located in the Landmark building at 215-2506 Beacon Ave.

Adam Olsen is the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, representing the BC Green Party

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