Citizen Voice Project urging people to vote this November in Comox Valley

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 19 municipal elections, the Citizen Voice Project hopes to get people talking about what is important to them and to inspire them to vote.

SUSAN MacVITTIE

SUSAN MacVITTIE

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 19 municipal elections, the Citizen Voice Project hopes to get people talking about what is important to them and to inspire them to vote.”We’re hoping to inspire more people to vote in the upcoming civic elections,” said Susan MacVittie, who is co-ordinating the project with Dan Vie. “This is part of the process to engage people in a dialogue about what’s important to them in their community and how they can make a difference by voting.”The non-profit, non-partisan Citizen Voice Project (CVP) is moving into the next phase of its Community Survey Project.Last spring, 600 surveys were completed, and in the next three weeks, CVP is setting a target of conducting 1,400 more — and it’s looking for help.The CVP is looking for volunteers to take the survey to their friends, neighbours and acquaintances.”We need people to be involved for a few hours,” said Vie. “The group is trying to emphasize that you gain more by meeting people face to face. That builds community.”In the next two weeks, the Citizen Voice Project will be canvassing surveys door-to-door, at events and at favourite spots in the Comox Valley.Only 31 per cent of people voted in Courtenay’s civic election, and CVP wants to encourage a higher turnout in the upcoming civic election through this survey.The survey is a values-based survey, not an issue-based one, to engage people in what kind of values are important to them in our community.They chose to focus on values because issues tend to polarize people, explained MacVittie.A values-based organization tends to broaden the playing field, added Vie.”You’re not focusing so much on one particular issue, which creates conflict, but if you try to identify what everyone values, you tend to have common interests,” he said.Each survey takes about two to three minutes to fill out and is composed of 10 yes or no questions with room for comments. It’s meant to be a conversation starter to build engagement and democratic literacy.”The questions are simple, they’re broad, and I think so far, 94 per cent of respondents have agreed with them,” said Vie. “Now, whether the people governing us agree, that remains to be seen. It’s a conversation opportunity, and it’s easy and fun.”The survey results will be correlated with how an individual councillor voted on a particular value and presented in the form of a report card, which will be shared with the public, councils and the regional district.”It’s giving people an opportunity to think about what’s important to them,” said Vie. “Often, people don’t get asked. It’s a process of asking people what they think. The door opens up for conversation. Suddenly you find people want to talk about it because they don’t have a chance usually.”The values identified in the survey come out of a public workshop in 2008 in which 50 people spent four days identifying what values are most important to them in the Comox Valley, explained Vie.The CVP is asking anyone who can lend two to three hours of their time to the project to contact them at surveys@citizenvoiceproject.ca or call Brian at 250-334-3624.For more information and to take the survey, visit http://www.citizenvoiceproject.ca/.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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