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Forum another example council doesn’t listen
I am very upset with local politicians. I wonder sometimes why they serve.
Not to paint all with the same broad brush — I know some politicians who work hard for their community — but the reality is that some are there for self-serving purposes. I am tired of always having to headbutt them every time I want to be heard.
This was proven to me once again during the recent public forum on development and diking issues in Somenos Marsh. It provided clear-cut evidence North Cowichan is not listening and has decided what the public wants and needs without consultation or transparency.
The forum, hosted and paid for by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, was held because North Cowichan refused to hold this same community process despite many different and individuals asking for more than three years.
North Cowichan’s answer to the many requests for a public meeting was, and still is, that the floodworks are an emergency and grant deadlines do not leave time for public consultation.
What surprised me the most was the lack of politicians attending the forum. Apart from two North Cowichan councillors, the mayor of Duncan, one Duncan councillor, and a single CVRD director no other politician showed up to listen to what their residents had to say about an extremely important community-wide issue.
One absent North Cowichan councillor was heard to say, attendance was not necessary since they were adequately represented by the mayor and staff present at the forum.
May I ask, since when is a staff report better than hearing the people’s voices directly?
North Cowichan Mayor, Jon Lefebure faced a crowd of more than 350 residents raising the issue of the lack of transparency and consultation amongst other issues.
He had the audacity to suggest the best place to learn about North Cowichan activities, in particular the issue that brought everyone to the forum, was to attend a council meeting.
The ridiculousness of this suggestion is almost offensive when you consider it.
If you don’t have a car, you cannot get to the municipal hall since it is located far out of town and far from any bus routes. Furthermore, if you have a regular job, forget attending as council meetings are held during business hours.
If that weren’t enough to deter you, why would you even consider sitting through six hours of meeting time when much of what is most important happens during closed sessions or committee meetings?
Furthermore, if you want to say something, you can only ask questions about what was discussed during the council meeting
Now the dust has settled on the dike construction that prompted the Somenos-hosted public forum.
The realization that North Cowichan has subversively annexed a large piece of valuable real estate when the dikes moved into Somenos Marsh is not lost on people
The fact the entire tract of land orphaned by the dike is labeled on planning maps as lands for potential development confirms their purpose.
It did not stem from public consultation at all. It is simply a land grab influenced by serious money.
Many of us try to do good works in the valley and yet, we continue to be sidelined and stalled by a political process that hinders rather than helps.
Rather than focus our volunteer time on positive growth we are left to fight local politicians who just don’t get it.
It is time they did get it!
Paul Fletcher is a former Duncan city councillor who writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial.