As we draw ever closer to the municipal election I have been thinking a lot about the title of this post. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo launched a new campaign this election to try to increase voter awareness and participation, and, in the end, improve our voter turnout. I have been impressed by the "This is your space" campaign, from the floor signs and stair wraps at MacDonald Island Park to the booth at the local trade show designed to encourage voting. More than anything, though, I have been impressed by the sentiment behind the campaign - because Wood Buffalo, this is your space.
This is your community. This is your home. This is your past, your present, and your future. This is your space, and during this election you have the opportunity to claim it, protect it, and direct it. You have the chance to have your say in how and where we will go as a region, and how this community develops. You have the opportunity to exercise your democratic right (and privilege) to vote for those you believe in, and to contribute to democracy. I think it is important to note one thing, though. Your space doesn't end at midnight on Monday October 21, when all the votes have been counted. Your space will still be there Tuesday morning, needing you and your contributions - because this space needs all of us to achieve our potential and become what we can be.
It is crucially important that you vote, you see. You need to get to a polling station and draw that line between to complete the arrow to show who you wish to represent you (and yes, even the ballot has changed this year, and you will not mark an X but rather fill in a small red arrow). But voting isn't enough. Your space - this community, and this region - doesn't just need you on Monday. It needs you every day, year round, because your input matters.
You can volunteer or serve on a local board. You can start a new organization or begin your dream business. You can attend future council meetings or engagement sessions. You can do a million things to contribute to this place, to make it the place you want to live and where others will want to come. You can start on Monday (or maybe for you it is just a continuation of your contributions to this space), and you can fill in that red arrow - and then you can just keep on going, exploring your space, and finding your place in this community.
This is your space, Wood Buffalo. Fill it in, fill it up, and fill this place with all the things you think we need or wish to see. This is your space, and this is your time. Use it wisely, and well.