What are the real duties of a Councillor?

A question I have been asked repeatedly is "What does a Councillor actually do?" This is a good question to ask since the general public sees only a fraction of the busy work being done at City Hall. The majority of people who asked me the question had known some Councillors to attend the fun events hosted in the city and also council meetings.

The past few days have opened my eyes to another aspect of what is involved in being a Councillor. I have attended two events in the past week that were not attended by sitting city Councillors. The events were not photo ops, they were not 'feel good news stories' and yet they were extremely important. 

The first event was a benefit for Griffin Centre in North Etobicoke.  The centre had recently made headlines when comments from their city Councillor stated the centre "ruined community".  I would beg to differ. The Griffin Centre mission "delivering services to people who thought their needs didn’t count."  I was glad to attend the benefit and proud other council candidates Jolene Hunt & Andray Domise showed their support as well.

The second event I attended this week was a fundraiser and 16th anniversary for The Gatehouse in Southern Etobicoke. The "Letting in the Light" fundraiser helps the refuge achieve its mission statement: To provide support, resources and advocacy on behalf of those impacted by childhood sexual abuse.  A great group of people attended the event. We were lucky to hear some personal stories and accounts of how The Gatehouse had changed their lives.  Andray Domise joined me in supporting another great organization within Etobicoke.

These are accounts of just two events.  There are many that should be attended by Councillors from across the city.  Organizations like Griffin Centre & The Gatehouse, The Red Door Shelter and Street Haven hear the voices of those residents; the residents in need of real help.  These organizations provide support for our neightbours who find themselves in abusive relationships.  They provide counselling to victims of childhood sexual abuse.  They help victims release the pain of shame and blame. How can we expect to build and strengthen a community if we tend to ignore those who are struggling to survive?  How can we expect those in need to even believe help is available if we don't shine a light on organizations that are there for support and guidance?

In my opinion, councillors need to make serving the residents of their ward their top priority.  If my mention of these organizations makes just one person donate their time or money, which in turn helps just one person escape from a bad situation, I've done my duty. 

Yes, there are organizations that are positive, bright and happy.  They are also very important to our community.  I look forward to promoting their message and how they benefit the residents of Ward 3 as well.  There are many organizations that are important to our residents and need to be viewed as such. We just need to understand that while some residents stand laughing while enjoying a fun and exciting event, there are some residents who stand in the darkness, feeling alone. Please take a moment and consider what is important to you and what you believe your Councillor should be doing. I feel councillors are the voice for our community and should make sure that every voice is heard.

It is my hope that if I become Councillor for Ward 3, that I can promote many great organizations across this ward. We can build a stronger Etobicoke community together.

Thank you,

Peter Fenech

Posted on June 18, 2014 .