COLUMN: Reflecting on the public process

I took the time a couple of weeks ago to watch the Summerland municipal council meeting. All four hours of it.

Summerland

I took the time a couple of weeks ago to watch the Summerland municipal council meeting.

All four hours of it.

A few things struck me.

I have never attended or watched a council meeting where the CAO spoke as much as our current CAO Lynda Tynan.

Don’t misconstrue my meaning I don’t think that is a good or a bad thing. I just hadn’t seen that before.

Most CAOs sit through the meeting without saying much of anything unless directly asked a question. I guess it’s just a matter of style.

One item dominated the meeting.

Obviously, if you read our letters section, it was the proposal to develop a piece of land in Bristow Gulch.

Now in standard Summerland style, the minute the word development is used, people get edgy. This case was no different.

The room was packed and even the hallway had onlookers.

Ever watch a western, and see the scene where the stranger walks into the saloon and everything stops? The music, the chatter…everything.

Everyone turns and stares at the stranger.

That’s what it must feel like to be a developer speaking in front of council in Summerland.

Judging from the letters we have received to date, many think the proposal should have been shredded and never even considered.

This is where I differ in opinion.

The reason we have these kinds of developments proposed to council is to promote discussion.

There is a lot of due process built into these kinds of development proposals and plenty of time for the public and council to gather information and have their questions and concerns addressed.

Obviously the neighbours have an issue with anything of this size coming to their quiet little streets. Construction can be very inconvenient and plus there will be an influx of new people moving in, bringing with them traffic concerns and the like.

Legitimate concerns.

The other questions centred around the vineyard currently on the property. Viable agricultural land that would be lost to this development.

Another legitimate concern.

My point is that without due process, without passing the first reading of this proposal, none of those concerns can be addressed.

Respect must be shown to the planning department and work of the developers to get this from an idea to a first reading draft.

That’s why we have a planning department.

They vet out the ill prepared and only work with those willing to do their part, and play by the rules.

I’ve seen accusations that this proposal is another case of developers running city hall.

Based on what I saw in that meeting, there is no basis for that comment.

While you are busy looking for a conspiracy, and lighting your hair on fire, you are missing an opportunity to participate in your municipality.

Participate in the discussion, ask questions, get answers.

Just know that sometimes the answers may not always line up with your expectation.

That’s democracy.

That’s due process.

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.