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4 simple ways to become involved in your community

(NC) Want to make a difference in your community but not sure where to begin? Here are some easy ways to get involved:

  1. Find your representative. It’s important to know who represents you in government decisions. Find out the contact info of your Member of Parliament and your local municipal councilor and don’t be afraid to reach out to them with your concerns—whether you think more money should be spent on mental health care, or if you think your neighbourhood needs a new stop sign.

  2. Get out and vote. This is an easy one. Whenever there’s an election, make sure you vote for representatives who are aligned with your interests and concerns. And don’t just vote in major federal or provincial elections—local governments often have a big impact on your day-to-day life.
     
  3. Participate in the census. Taken every five years, the census is an important part of our heritage—it helps us learn more about the makeup of communities across Canada while taking an active role in the civic process. This longstanding part of our identity has been around since 1666, when Jean Talon conducted the first Canadian census. Today, the census is the primary source of sociodemographic data for key population groups and it supports economic, educational and cultural outcomes.

    Important decisions and policies are based on the data collected, such as where to build schools or invest in support workers for the elderly. An easy way to make sure you and your family’s needs are prioritized is to participate in the next census, scheduled for May 2021. You can even complete the questionnaire online.

  4. Volunteer in your community. You can learn a lot and make a big difference in the lives of others by volunteering for an organization that supports a cause you care about. Whether it’s a local shelter or your child’s school, becoming more engaged in your neighbourhood is a good first step to being more engaged in your community.

Even if you try just one or two of these ideas for getting involved, you will see how rewarding it can be for yourself and those around you.

 
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5 things to look for when choosing a new neighbourhood

(NC) A big move is always exciting, but we can sometimes get so caught up in finding the perfect home that we forget about choosing the right neighbourhood. Your community can have a big impact on your lifestyle and quality of life, so here are some features to consider when scoping out locations:  

  1. Getting around. Do you like being able to walk or bike everywhere you go? Do you rely on public transportation to get to work? Or do you have mobility issues and prefer driving? Make sure potential neighbourhoods are suited to your favourite method of transportation—that means plenty of bike paths for cycling or lots of lanes to avoid car congestion. Census data can give you a good idea of which Canadian communities are most accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Plenty of useful and interesting data about transportation and other aspects of your community can be found on Statistics Canada’s website.
  2. Demographics. Many of us like to live with people who are in a similar life stage. A quick scan of the census data for a specific community can tell you useful things about its inhabitants, like the age of local kids and even what kind of work people do. Factor this in when making your decision and keep in mind what schools, daycare facilities, retirement homes and jobs are available, depending on your family’s needs and career paths.  
  3. Affordability. An affordable neighbourhood is just as important as an affordable home. Is the main street filled with pricey restaurants you’ll only be able to afford on special occasions? Are there opportunities for fun, free things to do, like libraries or a skating rink? Before committing to a neighbourhood, make sure you can afford to have fun and experience what the community has to offer.
  4. Environmental factors. Make sure your surroundings are suited to your lifestyle. For example, an area full of bars and nightlife might not work if you have small children. If you love nature, you might want to pick somewhere with a nice park nearby. Or, if you have a dog, proximity to dog parks and walking trails might be a top priority.

Visit census.gc.ca to find useful demographic information for planning your move. Contribute to your neighbourhood’s future by completing the 2021 Census in May 2021.

 
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