Opinion

OUR VIEW: A significant dilemma

Petty battles between municipal councillors in North Saanich continued this month when they fought over the use of a single word on their website in relation to a policy change description.

A recent vote to remove that word assumes most voters in North Saanich are fools and in fact insults both the supporters and opponents of what is clearly a council majority that goes to great lengths to back each other up in their fights with the mayor and her supporters.

Is this a significant issue in North Saanich? Councillors think so. In fact, it was the word ‘significant’ they chose to strike from a description of a proposed amendment to the District’s Regional Context Statement.

Never mind that the councillors on both sides of the table agree that the change to the RCS is important, of consequence and noteworthy — each part of the Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English’s definition of the word, ‘significant’. And never mind that most people in North Saanich have little knowledge of just what the RCS does (in this case the RCS change is to have the Capital Regional District allow more housing in the community that is of a higher density than it’s used to).

Councillors Ted Daly, Craig Mearns, Conny McBride and Dunstan Browne wanted ‘significant’ gone because they said its use by Mayor Alice Finall on the webpage was “an emotive response” to changes she opposes. The rest of the online statement was fine, they said.

Why a majority of council that has pushed through its changes to development in the community is threatened by a single word — and an apt one in this case — is mystifying. If nothing else, the debate over this was a significant waste of time.

Daly pretty well conceded that point when he withdrew his motion on this two weeks ago. Then, on April 14, Mearns raised it again and the majority supported it. Had it not advanced so far, could we have seen McBride or Browne raise it again at another meeting?

In an election year, voters in North Saanich may not be able to expect any greater discourse between political opponents currently on council.

That is a shame and if candidates this fall cannot come up with other issues of community significance, it will drive people away from the polls. And that in itself is a significant concern, for North Saanich could end up with another bickering council — this time for four years instead of three.

 

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