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Posted: November 6, 2019

The right to public consultation

Letter to the Editor

It is heartening to see some letters from the public questioning the lack of public involvement and consultation in various municipal projects and decisions.

Most of what has transpired in the last few years all over, seems to consist of last ditch efforts to inspire economic growth in communities in whatever way possible. A case of ‘if we build it, they will come.’

The need for proper public processes blatantly disregarded in the manic rush to get projects okayed, and substantially started, before too much opposition builds up that may shut the ideas down or send developers elsewhere.

Citizens need to be informed from the get go. It is after all the people who live here who have to bear the brunt of reckless decisions made on their behalf, so it stands to reason, they should be involved all the way through.

In a truly ‘democratic’ society solid public approval would be the first order of business. Both the yeas and the nays would be public knowledge.  Few if any projects brought forward in the last few years have ever emphatically stated those numbers.  Data regarding opposition is almost never published. The impression is therefore, one of overwhelming public approval for whatever comes to the table – a false sense of the true picture.

Public squelching shows up in various ways
• people made to feel uncomfortable about openly expressing their opinions/dismissive attitudes;
• mentality that lack of public cooperation stymies economic growth;
• meetings held in small areas accommodating only a few;
• stakeholders dealt with on a one to one basis – minimizing negative concerns that may influence the thinking of others;
• limited time limits for public comment;
• dependency on computer to give notice about public comment;
• development of Consultation Management plans and Master Plan documents costing thousands of dollars, for the purposes of due diligence, that do not live up to expectations, or include input from all relevant public sources.

We’ve seen the lack of true public consultation in the way the trails in the Bootleg/Matthew Watershed was handled. People are seeing it with the proposed selling of Bootleg Gap Golf Course and the Riverside Campground.

The Chinese Independent School appears to be a done deal with no opportunity for public approval or consultation beforehand. Had there been more public involvement when two more golf courses were added years back, it may not be considered such a necessity to create another business to supplement the long-time Kimberley Golf Course.

Questions such as the following need to be asked: How much does the community really need? What does the community envision for itself with regard to development?

Please ask yourself these questions and make your voice heard, you have that right!

Cheryl Olsen,

St. Mary Lake resident

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