by Laurie McConnell,
I have a fundamental problem with Official Community Plans… it is a necessary plan to have, but the way they are organized in our modern times, requiring those who wish to contribute (and protect the ideas they put forward for inclusion over the length of the OCP process) to commit to years of in-person meetings. That is in itself not sustainable and leads to OCPs that are representative of only a fraction of the population. There are so many modern tools, from webinars and conferencing online, highly vetted survey tools, discussion forums with tracking enabled – the idea that we’re still back at newspaper ads and meetings ad nauseum is ludicrous.
I noted in the OCP documents for Gibsons that the first group working on the Harbour Plan consisted of 49 members of the community and stakeholders. 81 people commented in the Phase II portion of that OCP. Is that reflective of the breadth of the Gibsons community?
I don’t think the current methodology around OCPs will engage younger families and many of us middle-agers. The first group finds them irrelevant and archaic, the second group – many of my cohorts – find them impossible to engage in, both due to format, and due to the dominance of some of the participants.
I know some folks (likely those most invested into the current OCPs) will say, ‘that’s the process, suck it up… you want a say, participate’, but I ask you: if only a hundred or so people in a community of 5,000-10,000 are participating, there’s a problem. And the issues around The George Marine Hotel & Residences, Target Marine and the like is where this problem surfaces.
When all a community hears is ‘no’ that’s when the broom comes out, and even the moderate voices are gone in a push for the pendulum’s swing the other way. That’s why we have the councils we have at this point in time, and everyone brought them here, even those – or I might venture, especially those – who did not vote for them.
I see a lot of really provocative conversation around both of these initiatives/issues, much of it so uncivil it beggars description (and that on both sides). It’s time we start looking at each other with compassion, a desire for understanding, and curiosity, rather than judgement and condemnation.
At the end of the day, we have elected – for better or worse – the councils who represent us in our communities. We all get our chance to have a say, and then council and town staff determine the best course of action. In my idealized reality, democratic process would be supported, leading to one of two scenarios: a project is green-lit, or a project is stalled. I expect whoever is on the opposing tack on an issue to cede to the weight of majority as expressed in who is sitting in council seats. I accepted what went on in Sechelt for near a decade, even though it wasn’t to my liking. I waited until there was an opportunity to change, and availed myself of it. And I accept the bad with the good, as I did with the previous council.
The first order of business for OCPs in our community should be modernizing how all stakeholders can engage and interact with each other in the process using the innovative technology of our modern age.
George Marine Hotel & Residences
Town of Gibsons
Town of Gibsons Update on The George Jan 21/14
George Hotel on Facebook
Town of Gibsons on Facebook
Dr. Dorothy Riddle’s report: Analysis of the Probable Economic Impact of The George Hotel and Residences on the Town of Gibsons
George Hotel’s Economic Impact Information