EDITORIAL: What’s in a name?

Who does the Parksville Residents' Association represent?

If you give your organization a big-enough sounding name, can you purport to speak for thousands, even if you aren’t much more than a coffee klatch?

It would be good for democracy here if there was a Parksville residents’ association with hundreds of members from all points in the political spectrum, with well-publicized and well-attended meetings, a website and an active executive with a mandate to put together position papers for city council and staff to consider.

Selfishly, it would be good for us too — a go-to source for comment about the affairs of the city. A real residents association with an active membership could organize debates during elections, help voters focus on some issues and perhaps even increase interest in municipal politics.

The considerably smaller community of Qualicum Beach has a few such organizations. Is it coincidence the voter turnout in Qualicum Beach last month was north of 60 per cent and in Parksville it was less than 35 per cent? We think not.

A search for the Parksville Residents’ Association (PRA) on the web is pretty much a fruitless exercise. There is no link to this supposed association from the city’s website. The city lists a number of links for organizations, but not the PRA. The PRA is apparently a member of something called the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition — that’s the extent of the PRA’s existence on the web, aside from some mentions in news stories. And the PRA is not a member of the Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations.

The PRA, or at least the person who sent us the news release (see story in Tuesday’s edition of The NEWS), wants the new city council to conduct a town-hall-style meeting about the water treatment plant. Fair enough. Good idea. The scope and price of the current proposal may need to be scaled down considerably. This suggestion was raised a number of times during the election campaign.

What standing does the PRA have to call for this kind of meeting and to allege the process has been “secretive”? Perhaps no standing is required.

Hmmm, does that mean we can get a few buddies together once in a while, call ourselves the World Residents’ Association and expect standing at the United Nations? Cool, we see a trip to Manhattan in our future.

— Editorial by John HardingI

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