Democracies are dominated by those who show up.
That’s true on election day, for sure, but it’s also true when it comes to public input on big projects.
The Town of Qualicum Beach’s Waterfront Master Plan continues to wind its way through a process. A week from today (Thursday, August 11) at the ridiculous time of
10 a.m., town council will meet in chambers to discuss the draft of the plan. It’s a committee of the whole meeting, which means nothing final can be passed — that has to happen at a regular meeting of council.
To its credit, the town has asked for opinions through open houses and an invitation to e-mail comments.
A couple of things about that. What the town is doing with these comments, how it is coming up with priorities for the waterfront from this input, has been called into question. From the outside looking in, it looks as though town staff are rearranging the priorities to fit some agenda. Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer, a lone ranger if there ever was one, raised concerns of this nature during the most recent council meeting, wondering why the ‘weighting’ of one suggestion changed.
More important than that, however, is the quantity and diversity of the input received. That cannot be put at the feet of council and staff (except, perhaps, for the curious timing of meetings).
Far too often when it comes to policies adopted by municipal councils in this region, we hear a hue and cry after the fact, after something has been adopted. Closing the barn door after the horse is gone, as it were.
In this case, the town has repeatedly invited submissions and sought input from the public. The NEWS has published those invitations and we have published a number of stories about the progress of this plan. The ‘we didn’t know this was going to happen’ argument after the fact is weak in this case, as it is in most cases.
We urge Qualicum Beach residents to view the draft Waterfront Master Plan at www.qualicumbeach.com. The vision statement for the waterfront is particularly interesting and, in our view, all encompassing.
The first thing to know about any waterfront plan these days is it must address the effects of global warming, rising sea levels and accompanying erosion. The Qualicum Beach plan seems properly focused in that regard. Our only concern relates to probable lack of input from younger people, from families, and the subsequent lack of fun, food, music and business opportunities that may result.
— Editorial by John Harding