There’s no way to manufacture anything mixed about the message Monday night in Nanoose Bay.
Approximately 300 people showed up for a public hearing regarding bylaws that would move forward a massive expansion of Nanoose though development on lands owned by Fairwinds near Schooner Cove and the Lakes District.
Thirty people took the microphone to speak at the public hearing; 29 of them spoke in glowing terms about what the developments will do for their community.
What’s more, they urged both the regional district and provincial government to provide approvals as expeditiously as possible for a project that’s been talked about for most of the last decade. The people have had their say. Perhaps most importantly, Nanoose First Nations’ concerns have been respected and Chief David Bob has expressed his people’s support for the project.
The unification of the people, especially when it wasn’t in opposition to something, seemed odd for a public hearing. When we walked into a room of 300 people who were there to talk about a major development, the last thing we would have suspected is uniform thinking.
But there was the message for both the directors of the regional district and the provincial government: get on with it.
There is a good argument that the system used for passing municipal bylaws is flawed. By the time proposals reach the public hearing stage, the opportunity for questioning elected officials on their view of the plan is over. There is no back and forth at a public hearing, no chance to put the feet of politicians to the fire.
However, there are many weeks before a bylaw gets to the public hearing stage where the public can quiz politicians and staff and make their case. And just because a politician doesn’t agree with a certain point of view in the end, it doesn’t mean he/she hasn’t listened.
There is, however, not much ambiguity in the Fairwinds case. The public wants regional district directors to move this forward and they want MLA Michelle Stilwell to help push it through the bureaucracy with reasonable speed.
Perhaps within three years, a Nanoose Bay senior citizen will be able to walk a short distance to get a few groceries before enjoying a glass of wine or cup of tea on a pub deck facing Georgia Strait, all near his/her reasonably-sized, properly-supported home. Ah, aging in place sounds civilized, does it not?
— Editorial by John Harding