The Englishman River Water Service management committee meeting Tuesday revealed again that the RDN and the City of Parksville are stuck in a dilemma re: the proposed water system project.
The planning process included meetings with community leaders, plus a public participation component, but they failed in providing the desired input from the public. However, the professional staff are using the data as a guideline of public acceptance of the concept and technical decisions and process, all of which are highly technical and some largely untested. Only 40-95 responses were retrieved from the online surveys from a population of about 15,000 (including Nanoose Bay), which makes it statistically inadequate for the intended purposes. Yet it is being used as if it were real, authenticated and a representative response of public opinion. How could a project receive approval in such cases?
Political leadership on this project is lacking, especially when substantiation of data is responded to by “We’re guided by the man who wrote the book” on the subject. Focusing on the innovativeness as a reason to support it is folly.
On the funding side, the political rhetoric against federal and provincial government support is ramped up, suggesting that it is imperative for the senior levels to provide funding since the requirement to do so was issued by a provincial public health agency. For centuries, the availability and distribution of a commodity as essential as water was always the domain of local jurisdictions, which also extended to sewerage, garbage and storm water management.
It is not that the public is both blind and gullible, but when a local jurisdiction abdicates its role and blames previous councils for the infrastructure deficit and lack of services, residents must be wary. It’s a matter of trust, and without leadership it will not happen.