Public opinion surveys can serve more than one purpose. A survey can be structured in a manner to objectively try to understand the public’s opinion. A survey can also be structured in a manner that serves to validate the opinion of the surveyor, the party who bought and paid for the survey. In this case, that would be Pheasant Glen owner Craig Dutton.
While this survey in my opinion was in no way an objective effort to understand public opinion, the survey results and Dutton’s press release did illuminate a problem. This problem has plagued our town for many years.
Efforts are continuously made to categorize residents of our town as “pro change” or “no change.” Residents are “pro development” or “no development.” Residents are “pro growth” or “no growth.”
I belive the Pheasant Glen-commissioned survey was structured to perpetuate this attempt to make growth and development in Qualicum Beach a black or white issue. It is an insult to every resident in this town. It suggests we are not capable of thinking beyond “yes” or “no.”
Dutton would like us to believe his survey provides definitive opinion results. It does not. The Dutton survey was simply another effort to polarize our community, to make every development issue in Qualicum Beach a matter of “you’re either with us or against us.” In addition, those who were called to participate in the survey report that the words “quality of life” were used by the pollsters. These are the words the town has used in a past survey and it added confusion, so much so the town issued a news release to clarify it was not behind the recent survey.
I think there is a category of residents in this town who moved here because the town offered certain qualities that they wanted to enjoy and now want to preserve. They are not opposed to change. They support the creation of a comprehensive community plan and development compatible to that plan.
They expect those elected to follow the plan. They are opposed to random approval of development proposals that are not consistent with an overall community plan. They are opposed to efforts by developers and the town to circumvent processes put in place to ensure development does not unnecessarily compromise the resources we depend upon to live, like water, or compromise our present quality of life.
Pheasant Glen has now been in play for over a decade. One proposal was approved but no action was taken. I believe very little substance has been offered to support two subsequent proposals. To the best of my knowledge, no environmental impact studies have been offered, no economic impact studies have been offered. Basically, we have been told, “trust us.” Trust is a quality that is earned, not awarded.