Becoming the best

If Aldergrove wants to see change it must be a grassroots movement to succeed.

It’s been my experience that if we want change in our communities it has to come from both the grassroots, the people who live in the community, and from the top, the policy makers – the politicians.

The will and the energy to generate effective change, have to come from both ends – the bottom and the top. Aldergrove is in a position right now to make that happen.

I had a call the other day from a lady called Joanne. Joanne is participating in the Million Dollar Neighbourhood project. She told me, that although she’s always been interested in what’s going on in her community, she’s never taken an active role in making things happen. She’s now ready to take that next step.

Joanne is not unique. I’ve been noticing a fresh wind blowing through Aldergrove, a new enthusiasm for community activities and a new community pride.

The Aldergrove Festival Days attracted more exhibitors and visitors than I’ve seen for a long time. It was a wonderful family event. The Aldergrove Business Association is vibrant and active. Community clean-ups and community events of all kinds are happening on a regular basis.

Just going through the Aldergrove Star for the last month, it’s chock-full of things that can make us proud. Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services, born in our little community 16 years ago to look after the needs of young families, has merged with Langley Family and Youth Services (FAYSS) and now serves families, children and youth across Langley. Beat the Streets, the new Langley youth homelessness initiative, is based in Aldergrove. Parkside Elementary School students thanked the community for a brand new playground. A Wall of Lanterns, almost 600 pumpkins carved by Aldergrove families, celebrated Halloween in Aldergrove. Aldergrove Lake Park hosted the Langley Fraser Valley Cross-country championship. Aldergrove and its people are the stars of the Millionaire Neighbourhood TV show.

It seems to me we have a healthy grassroots movement going on here in our town. People are stepping in and stepping up to make changes, working hard to make this the vibrant community it can be. The upcoming election provides us with an opportunity to also address the other side of the equation – the top, the policy makers. We have a chance to vote for the people who will make the policy decisions that will positively impact our community.

Aldergrove is one of the oldest communities in Langley, but it has “faded” in modern times. It’s a bit isolated, called the “place between” – halfway between Langley City and Abbotsford. It often feels “forgotten” and neglected in favour of newer, growing communities. There is a sense that Aldergrove is consistently relegated to the end of the line when the “goodies” are handed out.

The fact is that Aldergrove is small, and although improvements to infrastructure have been made, growth has been slow. At the same time the new growing communities have legitimate needs, more voices and sometimes more resources. They also have more voters. It might be easy to throw up our hands and say “Why bother?” I’ve heard that often enough.

However, let me remind you that the grassroots in Aldergrove, the community, has a time-honoured tradition of doing for itself, of finding ways to make things happen. The community has always adhered to the old adage that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”  Part of finding that “way” today may be to take an active role in electing the people who will be the policy makers for the next three years. There may be fewer voters in our community, but the notoriously low voter turnout in municipal elections can work in our favour. If all eligible Aldergrove voters took the time to vote we would have a significant voice and a significant impact.

I would never suggest that Township councillors or school trustees favour one community over another. They have a responsibility to all. However, we here in Aldergrove have every right to know how well the candidates know this particular community, how well they understand our needs and desires, and what they are willing to do to support the community.

There are a lot of people running for Township Council and School Board and it will be hard to figure out who is the best choice, but it is worth our while to do exactly that. If the positive energy being generated at the grassroots of our community finds support at the top, we will go a long way to “becoming the best we can be.”

Make it your business to find out where the candidates stand in regard to our community. Ask them questions. Find out how well they know Aldergrove, its people, its needs, and its desires. If they are an incumbent, ask what they have done for our community. Ask all candidates what they are prepared to do to help Aldergrove become the healthy, vibrant community we all know it can be.

If you can’t come to an all candidates meeting, most candidates have a website with an email address and phone number.