Learning More About Government

Government may seem very confusing. In school, you may have studied civics and learned about government. You probably know that there is a federal government that serves all of Canada.

You may even know that there is a provincial government that serves the entire province of British Columbia.

Some of the things you need or want in your neighbourhood are taken care of by a different kind of government, called local or municipal government. Each city, village and town in British Columbia has its own mayor and councillors.

We’re going to tell you about Port Coquitlam’s City government.

Municipal government is really important because we deal with the things that affect you each and every day. The City of Port Coquitlam is responsible for providing police protection and fire rescue services. We make sure you have parks to play in and we offer special programs like summer camps.

It’s important to know what people need and understand what their problems are.

For this reason, people who live in Port Coquitlam are asked to vote for people (called elected officials) to represent them when important decision are made. Port Coquitlam residents elect a Mayor and six City Councillors to make the decisions that affect our City.

Let’s take an example. You want a new skate park in the City.

What would you do? You could contact an elected official, either the Mayor or a City Councillor, and tell that person what you think.

Now that you’ve told a member of Council what you think, he or she takes a look at all the other things that have been asked for by other people who live in the City. He or she attends meetings to discuss these things. The meetings are called Council meetings, and they usually take place twice a month. You can even watch one of these meetings on television on Shaw Community Channel 4. Together, the Mayor and City Councillors talk about all the things that need to be done, and they vote on those that seem to be the most important and in the best interest of the community at large.

So why doesn’t everything you ask for get done?

That’s a really difficult thing, because the City has a budget, just like you may have an allowance. If your allowance is only $5.00 a week, and you have a list of things you want to buy that equals $10.00, you have to make some decisions, right? Same thing with the City. The City tries to do as much as we can with the money we have.

Where does the money come from?

Much of the City’s budget comes from taxes. Taxes are collected on things you buy or own. If your parents own a house in Port Coquitlam, they pay property taxes. And this is the money that is used to pay for the services the City government provides to you like the parks, swimming pools, police protection, garbage collection, safe drinking water and much more.

Once the decisions are made about what the City must do, there are many people who work hard to make sure it all gets done. In Port Coquitlam, there are about 350 people, called City or civic employees, who work as firefighters, truck drivers, lifeguards, gardeners, building inspectors, engineers and much more. These people all work under the direction of the Chief Administrative Officer, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of our municipal government. That’s a big job!

Lets summarize what we’ve learned!

  • The official name of Port Coquitlam’s city government is The Corporation of the City of Port Coquitlam
  • All residents of the City of Port Coquitlam vote for the Mayor
  • City Council meets twice a month (except for August)
  • Most of the money in the City comes from the City budget, which is made up of tax revenue and other money.
  • The Chief Administrative Officer is responsible for the day-to-day operation of our municipal government
  • To get involved in my City I should participate in Council meetings, find out what’s going on and volunteer.

Who do you contact if you are interested in getting more information about Port Coquitlam? The information desk at 604.927.5411 or info@portcoquitlam.ca.