Learning government secrets
Approximately 1,800 students, teachers and parents had a hands-on, high-energy opportunity to learn about the inner workings of local government on April 26, Municipal Awareness Day which happened to coincide with the 139th anniversary of the Township.
One of the parents was Jordan Bateman, who accompanied his daughter, Indiana, a student at Alex Hope Elementary.
As a councillor, Bateman was a staunch advocate of Municipal Awareness Day, but he hasn’t strayed far from politics. He is now B.C. communications director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
At Thursday’s event at the Township Civic Facility, Bateman said the event was always his favourite as a councillor.
“And my enjoyment has only grown as I take part now as a parent on a field trip with my kids.”
He said that at a time when government “seems to be disconnected from everyday life, it reminds taxpayers and teaches children about what government does: Clean water, good infrastructure, great parks, public safety and more.”
Bateman said it is also an opportunity for Township council “to refocus on what’s important in their work — facilitating a great community for these kids to grow up in.”
Stations were set up throughout the facility and in parking lots to show students what municipal staff do on a day-to-day basis to keep the municipality functioning.
The children learned about everything from road maintenance, water management, sign making, recycling, policing, and tree planting to graphic design, recreation, the environment, and safety.
Employees from all areas of the Township, the Langley Centennial Museum, Langley Animal Protection Society, Emergency Services, and the Fort Langley National Historic Site took part to give the children a look at the work they do. Children climbed aboard municipal works vehicles and fire trucks, took part in a mock Township council meeting, voted in an election (and dance-off) that saw ‘Selena Gomez’ take on ‘Justin Bieber,’ and enjoyed food and drinks that were donated by local businesses and prepared by fire department and bylaw enforcement staff.
“The weather didn’t co-operate, but the rain didn’t dampen the children’s spirits,” said Mayor Jack Froese, who met and shook hands with the young visitors.
“They enjoyed themselves immensely and so did I. This was my first year taking part in Municipal Awareness Day and I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year.”
Municipal Awareness Day got its start in 2003 when 400 students from nearby schools visited the old Township Hall in Murrayville to learn about what municipal government does. It has grown to an event that is greatly anticipated by Langley’s elementary schools, and the Township is pleased to teach the children, who will one day be taxpayers, employees, or even elected officials themselves, about the services, programs, and products that keep the community safe, clean, and healthy.