The more things change, the more they stay the same in Qualicum Beach.
The council continues to operate in a secretive, controlling, adversarial and autocratic style. Last week, it gave third reading by 3-2 votes to a proposed $10-$20 million, five-storey condominium development next to the town hall, less than a month after the project was made public and received first reading.
Many questions were asked and significant concerns were expressed by those who spoke at the packed meeting at the Civic Centre. Members of council sat back silently. Yet this was the first and only opportunity for the public to express it’s views regarding one of the largest developments since the town’ incorporation 70 years ago. There is something terribly wrong with the town’s planning and public consultation process.
Why the unseemly haste? Why was there no opportunity for public meetings and interactive discussions during the weeks that preceded third reading by the council?
The many individuals who spoke last week did not behave like anti-development activists. They were exercising their democratic rights as residents and taxpayers. They asked good questions and wanted meaningful and timely input in the future development of their community. Yet they were given the mushroom treatment.
My own experience is that good governance in today’s world is collaborative, not adversarial.
Collaborative government takes as a starting point that working together in an open and transparent manner creates a more effective and lasting solution, it ensures that all the realities of the situation are considered and discussed and that decisions are not made in a vacuum. From the outset, all with a stake are involved in authentic ways, all have a role in the final agreement. This is what democratic and collaborative government is all about.
The general impression conveyed by the council is that it does not care what the public thinks. For example, there is nothing on the town website about the proposal. This is the year 2013, unbelievable!
Jean T. Fournier