Our mayor, the council and Resort Municipality of Whistler staff must feel just a tiny bit embarrassed for scheduling the Official Community Plan public hearing on Nov 6th. I would expect ignorant Americans not to know when the U.S. presidential election was, but Canadians? This election had more impact on our own fate than our own elections.
Memo to Mr. Furey, CAO of RMOW: new procedure for scheduling dates for important meetings and events — Google the date.
I spent five days writing my extensive OCP comments. But than it was too cold to go outside, and I felt I could not take two great doses of excitement at the same time, so I watched Obama win. Mea culpa, I am not blaming the council for that.
Sending or publishing my comments now has no effect. But a significant part of my comments were related to the process of the OCP, not the content and I hope that council can read those. Actually, the process is more important than the final result.
There were extensive consultations in this OCP process and that is a great achievement. Nevertheless, I believe that the process is somewhat lacking. I followed this process by only using Mountain Radio, Pique and The Question. I have plenty of time and knowledge to wade through binders and binders of information or many Internet pages. But I wanted to be on the same level as the majority of residents who are not in such position or do not even have Internet access.
Political processes as OCP are geared to those who get really engaged either due to their work, political position, their own activism or self interest. These very active participants: council, RMOW staff, organizations, lobbing groups and very engaged individuals exert great influence on the process.
The majority of people are left off-site. Not where their rights are concerned, but where their effectiveness in the decision process is concerned. They have a right to participate, but they chose not to. They chose not to because it is either very demanding, both in time and effort, or they have given up on the political process, or they simply do not give a damn.
And ay, there is the rub, as Hamlet would say. Our system gives the rights to the people, but does not give them enough instruments to implement their rights. Nearly 50 per cent of people do not vote in elections and we say that it is OK because they had the right to vote.
It is not the fault of the people who do not use their rights, but it is the fault of the political system that does not offer proper ways to exercise those rights.
There is enormous difference in being given the opportunity to participate in consultation and being given the opportunity to participate in some form in the actual decision.
An important issue such as OCP should be put to some form of binding or non-biding approval by residents (a referendum, a town hall meeting with vote, a proper opinion survey) before being adopted by the council. The HST referendum was an enormous step forward for the democracy in B.C. And when Harper, elected with only about 25 per cent of registered voters imposes the pipeline on B.C. against the will of 80 per cent of B.C. population, wouldn’t it be nice if a confirmation referendum was required?
Mountains of information, which most people have no time to study, should be digested to a couple of pages. Such an executive summary written in simple language with main elements, arguments, counter-arguments and rejected options and reasons for their rejection should then be mailed to each resident the way budget info is.
Does council have any quantitative data to show how many people support the current version of OCP to be adopted? Or any data how many people do not even know what OCP stands for?
Maybe it is not too late to get things right. This council is very sensitive to complaints of us residents. They cancelled a summer artist market because of the complaint by one art gallery owner. I do not expect anything like that from this letter.
Dear Editor, if your readers find some sense and agreement with what I am writing here then they can let the council members know. The council has this magical device that previous council used. It is called the Reset Button. It can start approval process over. It may take a bit more time, but this has been going on for a long time. A couple more weeks will not matter to get it right.