It is good to know that Coun. Dave Willie supports open government for the Qualicum Beach town council (The NEWS, May 9).
Transparency and accountability are among the hallmarks of a democratic society and of principled and informed government decision making.
His immediate concern appears to be with staff unused sick time. My question is whether his appeal for open government is equally applicable to the Clarion proposal and the speedy, and some would argue, hidden decision-making process which has essentially kept the town’s citizenry on the outside looking in.
Regrettably, it was clear at the May 6 public hearing into the Clarion proposal that the views of all those who spoke against, and for, were being presented to a brick wall. There was no opportunity for dialogue with any of the council members. In fact, the great majority (more than three-quarters of the speakers) spoke against the proposal as presented. Significantly, however, no one opposed the development of the site. In other words, there was a high degree of community willingness to find a solution in keeping with the Official Community Plan.
Yet were all the councilors listening with an open mind? Apparently not. At the resumed council meeting held immediately after the public hearing, all the amendments brought forward by the mayor and Coun. Scott Tanner were voted down by the other three councillors.
Surely if one is in favor of open government and the need for transparency and accountability to the public one should be open to thinking anew when informed by reasonable and community-minded proposals, and ways of proceeding.
This is particularly so when a community-based consensus could still be reached about such a key project, with bitter divisiveness being set aside.
And surely Bill Katerenchuk, the developer, and Neil Banich, the principal of Wensley Architecture Ltd would want to proceed on a foundation of community goodwill.
After all, Wensley’s website states: “We treat new commissions as unique opportunities to create buildings that meet or exceed the expectations of our clients and that give regard to the local community.”
This sounds like an invitation to openness and participation.