Never throw up your hands

Now, more than ever, residents need to remain involved in the poiltical process

Throwing in the towel, throwing up your hands, is exactly the ‘we give up’ attitude they are depending upon.

Delivering enough tardiness, confusion, inadequacy, irrelevance, bewilderment, and obfuscation can frustrate even the most determined fact-finders to the point of surrender … and there’s another battle they have won.

“They” in this case are the Qualicum Beach (QB) staff and council, with their non-responding response to the QB Residents Association’s request for details about changes to the town’s official community plan (OCP).

Yes, they did produce some paper, but not before using up the days of the legally required response time, and at that, apparently withholding some hundred-plus pages of information. This is freedom of information?

Has the town not hired, at some expense, a communications expert to keep residents apprised of what they have a right to know? How is that expert’s expertise helping residents who, it seems, have been judged incapable of understanding the town’s functioning, deliberations, and decisions without same being funneled through a third party?

When Qualicum Beach residents completed a Quality of Life Survey indicating their preferences, then spent hours and days hammering out an OCP to uphold these choices as much as possible, why are they being denied the right to see how changes are being made, willy-nilly, to the plan they put in place?

And then there’s the “dated material” sent as a “helpful gesture.” It may or may not have any bearing on OCP changes, but it certainly provides a lot more reading which may never get to the point in question.

It does appear that the Residents Assoc. comment, “… accessing information related to the town’s democratic processes were not fully available to us.” And this is disturbing.

Qualicum Beach may have the country’s oldest population, but that does not necessarily diminish its brain power and capacity for thinking and understanding … and requesting relevant information.

Is it questionable that un-elected town staff, rather than town council should make the decisions on which information is to be released to the town’s residents? It was said that council is not involved in Freedom of Information requests. One would expect that his/her elected representatives could instruct staff on what information was to be released.

Qualicum Beach is indeed a unique community in many ways, but it is not unique in suffering from the current economic downturn. This suffering is going on worldwide.

– how could QB, special though it is, avoid a lessening of business, and spending? If there are already blank store fronts, how will building more commercial space bring in more merchants and shoppers? Unless, of course, we bring in some big box stores and fast food outlets. That’ll put QB charm on the line.

What will adding another storey to new building accomplish except to restrict sunlight and views? How much sky and mountain have already been blocked out by uprising new structures? If QB’s attraction lies in its warm, village character why are height restrictions being trashed in the OCP? What was wrong with considering individual applications for a height variance rather than automatically piling on another storey?

What is wrong with being unique rather than like most other towns in the country? No doubt there is a price for being special, but residents for the most part appear willing to pay it. Is it those who consider only the bottom line as evidence of success who want the changes, and the residents be damned?

Of course people go out of town to do certain shopping; that’s one of the costs of retaining warm village character, but businesses which provide the basic necessities are holding their own; there are enough artisans and specialty outlets to lure the tourists; why the rather drastic changes to the OCP?

Individuals tighten their belts in tough economic times. Well run businesses do the same.

 

Maybe there are businesses and would-be business people who don’t wear belts.

When it comes to “… a growing isolation of the town council from the community ..” it’s time for the community to hunker down and fight another day. Never throw up your hands! -30-