City Hall 101: Encouraging Women’s Participation

As part of our Social Issues Discussion Series, Carol Armes, Executive Assistant to Councillor Druh Farrell of Ward 7, visited the Centre to facilitate a session about how City Hall works and how women can participate.

Women are significantly underrepresented on City Council. Each of Calgary’s 14 wards is represented by a Councillor, and Council is led by the Mayor. Currently, only 2 out of the 14 City Councillors are women. The next municipal election is scheduled for October 2017, but individuals are already signing up to run. At the moment, 22 men and two women (both serving Councillors) have applied to be candidates.

Councillors are responsible to their constituents, and to the various committees they are a part of. These include four Standing Policy Committees which focus on transportation, urban development, community & protective services, and utilities & corporate services.

In Council meetings, Councillors review reports and vote on recommendations contained within them.  These reports for Council are written by City staff, who make recommendations after gathering and analyzing information and engaging citizens.

Throughout the session, Carole gave examples of individuals or organizations that have advocated for change on issues including public transportation, housing, arts and women’s leadership.

Ways for citizens to participate are:

  • Attend open houses and engagement sessions;
  • Present at Committee meetings, Council public hearings or during the annual budget cycle (Action Plan) in October;
  • Advocate with other groups, City Administration or Council; or
  • Apply to sit on a Board or Commission. City Council selects members each October at the Organizational Meeting of Council, and applications are due in September.

Council meeting schedule is available online, and meeting agendas are usually posted on the Thursday prior to meetings.

The next Social Issues Discussion Series will be on food security in Calgary. Renée MacKillop believes food is personal, social, cultural, environmental, fundamental to our health and powerful.

As Project Manager of the Alex Community Food Centre, Renée will be discussing the power of good food, what food security is and what it means for our communities. She’s here on May 4th from 6-8pm.  Click to RSVP or call 403-264-1155.

This blog was written by Social Issues Committee volunteer, Amy Heidman.

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