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EDITORIAL: Growing pains
Even without growth, there are growing pains.
Communities in this region are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet and they are also being forced to grow up a bit, which can be a frustrating struggle for many who believe things were fine for a long time as they were, thank-you very much.
In this world of the Internet and social media, what's being done in other communities is much closer to home. What's worse, society seems to be increasingly controlled by warnings and precedents set by the courts and insurance companies.
Qualicum Beach provides an excellent example of this change in the way small-ish towns are perceived and what's expected of them by taxpayers.
It's our impression — with both anecdotal and solid evidence to back it up — there was a country-store mentality to the way the town was run in the past, and that just doesn't cut it any longer.
Verbal agreements and handshakes — see the case of the person who has been living in the Heritage Forest residence — just aren't good enough these days. Perhaps it's sad, but it's reality.
There is an appetite for increased accountability for every dollar spent and every deal struck related to taxpayer-owned facilities and taxpayer-funded staff or contracts. And it's difficult to argue against this amped-up scrutiny.
This is not to suggest those who worked out handshake deals on behalf of the town were doing anything nefarious. That, perhaps, was an accepted way to do business. It is no longer.
With this scrutiny, towns and cities should be pushing to take care of their own business, with a view to answering to their own taxpayers instead of looking for a nod from senior governments. Qualicum Beach and Parksville need to be telling the Regional District of Nanaimo what they plan to do within their borders on behalf of their residents, not asking for permission. How the RDN became viewed as a senior government to the municipalities here is beyond comprehension.
Yes, we all have to be good neighbours. Part of that is informing your neighbour when you plan to do some work close to their borders, and ask for their input. And part of it is working together on regional issues where cost-savings can be realized (transit, waste, etc.).
The RDN being viewed as a senior government that needs to give the nod before a town or city can approve or reject a project? Those days need to end.
— Editorial by John Harding