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Incorporation: Order Vs. Chaos

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    August 17, 2017

For me the Sept 9th referendum is a vote of order-vs-chaos. Salt Spring’s quaint hodge-podge of electoral and improvement districts represents anything but order, in my opinion. It’s a creature with many tentacles but no brain.

Just look around: No acceptable traffic plan in Fulford village; inadequately marked walking trails; none of the roads leading out from any of our three ferry terminals have even so much as a welcome sign for tourists. Speed limit signs on Fulford-Ganges are inconsistent which invariably means ending up behind a confused tourist settling on 50 km/hr for the drive to or from Ganges. Water lines supply drinking water to homes, but provide a questionable supply to fire hydrants, when they’re even connected. I understand to some people who defend the status quo these might seem like minor details, however one can easily extrapolate from there.

Under a municipality that aforementioned creature would have a brain – able to coordinate and efficiently communicate with the other parts. The left hand would know what the right hand is doing. In other words, some semblance of order. Imagine a sailboat with no rudder… wind in the sails but no particular heading or direction. As a community we’re merely floating.

We have zoning and an OCP. “Planners” and enforcers but no plan in terms of how to adequately address the very pertinent and growing needs that are outpacing and running rings around the system’s ability to address them. That’s what happens when you don’t have the proper tools. Issues get bandaged and duct taped. Why does it have to take such an extraordinary superhuman effort to get a boardwalk finished, or a housing project off the ground?

Many who are vociferously against a municipality are currently extolling the virtues of tweaking the current system. The amount of energy the PositivelyNO group have poured into opposition should have already been utilized since the last referendum to improve our governance. Why now the praising of a toothless Local Community Commission (LCC) which only the CRD has any power to create?

I think we as a community have a bit of a confused identity. We’re like children (taxpayers) being raised by our nannies (CRD,Trust, Fire District, Water Districts and the Province) rather than our real parents. In a municipality we’d be able to see the mayor or one of our councillors in the grocery store and say, “These are the people I can talk to”.

A popular concern from the NO campaign is that we can’t guarantee in 10-15 years we won’t have a corrupt municipal council loaded with developers. That’s like me saying I shouldn’t ever leave my house because I might get hit by a bus while crossing the street! There is no substitute for awareness. Salt Spring has twice elected a Green MP and lately a Green MLA. As long as we continue to have a population which holds strong conservationist/environmental awareness, there most will certainly be candidates running on that platform and elected to council. And I expect the electorate would be vigilant. If the community’s values shift, well so will the council. It’s called a democracy.

In the meantime, if we don’t incorporate, who is representing this community? Who is the leader? Where is the vision? Where is the direction? I’m not interested in watered down versions (LCC). I want the real thing. That’s why I’m voting YES.

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