Political action groups inform voters ahead of municipal election

Bike rides, surveys and candidate panels: several local political engagement groups have questioned municipal candidates about the issues and given the results to the voting public.

Several local groups have surveyed municipal candidates about a variety of issues

Mike Boos from TriTAG, left, and Sam Nabi of Hold the Line talk to CBC K-W's Peggy Lam during a Facebook panel. Their organizations have surveyed municipal candidates ahead of the election on Monday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

In the lead-up to the municipal election, several local organizations have surveyed candidates or even taken them on bike rides to get to know them.

It has all been done to help inform voters ahead of Monday's municipal election. 

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo hosted a Facebook Live panel with some of the groups that have engaged candidates. You can watch that here:

Civic Tech WR

This group developed a website called Waterloo Region Votes that consolidates information about every candidate, including a list of their social media accounts and websites.

Kristina Taylor, co-founder of Civic Tech WR, says they did this because they identified voter engagement and voter turnout as being an issue in the region "and people being rather confused about what's going to be on their ballot."

Hold the Line

Hold the Line is a group that surveyed candidates about the countryside line, which the region has said it will protect to prevent urban sprawl.

They hold a music festival each year to get people talking about the need to protect the countryside line.

For this municipal election, they've surveyed candidates about their views.


This is the third municipal election the walking, cycling and transportation advocacy group has surveyed candidates.

Mike Boos of TriTAG says they asked specific transportation questions of candidates in this latest survey and they want voters to be aware and give them access to the information.

"We know the last election, almost half of our survey traffic happened actually on election day itself," he said.

Emily Slofstra of Cycle WR speaks during a panel on the CBC K-W Facebook page on Oct. 18 about how different groups in the region are getting voters engaged in this municipal election. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Cycle WR

This group has done two different things during this election: One was a ride with candidates, where volunteers took candidates out to to "what it's really like to bike within the region," said Emily Slofstra from Cycle WR.

The volunteers wrote about their candidate rides on the group's website.

Cycle WR also asked candidates and voters to make a pledge, asking candidates to "commit to prioritizing cycling in Waterloo region" which includes a minimum grid of connected cycling infrastructure within four years and a minimum funding commitment of $20 per resident per year to implement the plan.

The group asked voters to pledge to encourage candidates to do those two things.

Architectural Conservancy North Waterloo Region Branch

This educational and advocacy group sent out surveys to 138 candidates, including school board trustees, but received just 40 responses. On the group's website they ask, "We wonder if heritage is not a big issue with candidates?"

Citizen questions on paramedic services

Jamie Moffat is married to a paramedic in the region, and reached out to candidates to ask for their thoughts on the region's paramedic services.

Cambridge Taxpayer Support Group

This Cambridge group asked candidates for their thoughts on the city's budget process and asked how they would ensure financial accountability while serving on council.

Arts and culture

TheMuseum wanted to offer people free admission on Wednesday, Oct. 24 if they said they voted, but were quickly told that's not allowed under the province's Municipal Elections Act.

Instead, everyone can get in using the no-so-secret passphrase, "please vote."

TheMuseum's CEO David Marskell says he's disappointed arts and culture haven't been higher on the priority lists of candidates.

"I'm really not seeing a lot of the election conversation touching on the arts and culture sector at all and that concerns me. I believe the arts and culture sector has kind of gone through a depression and we need to rally together and have a voice in unison to speak out for the arts," he said.

"I think this election is the biggest opportunity for change in the last 40 years and I believe people need to vote, they need to have arts and culture in mind, and they need to sustain it and help it, not just limp along, but to flourish."