If you live in North Saanich and take issue with important policy decisions of your municipal council, don’t expect to be heard for very long.
There appears to be only a small window to disagree with the majority of council and if you haven’t had the luck or the skill to change their minds in that time, you may never get the chance again.
Springfield Harrison found that out Monday night, as he tried to present a critique of a consultant’s housing survey. It was a small part in the District’s overall housing consultation process but has been given a lot of weight by council and their supporters to proceed with increasing housing development.
Councillors voted to remove Mr. Harrison from the delegation list on the agenda. The reason? Council has heard the complaints before and the consultant wasn’t there to defend himself. This, despite the fact the majority of council was at Monday night’s meeting were the subject of most of Mr. Harrison’s critique and were definitely there to defend themselves.
That defense took the form of preventing Mr. Harrison from speaking his mind.
It’s exceedingly rare for a municipal body to not hear from a concerned citizen on any particular matter. People want to know they have been heard. They might not expect to change anyone’s mind on the issues, but they want that opportunity and they want to be valued for their ideas and concerns.
It’s a councillor’s job to represent the people of their community — not just their main supporters — and make decisions for the betterment of the entire municipality. Even if they feel they have acted in those best interests, a councillor must expect to be questioned and even severely criticized for those same decisions.
A politician not prepared for that should seriously consider whether they want to be in that position.
North Saanich councillors, in refusing to hear legitimate concerns in this manner, have done their community a disservice. At a time when more people want meaningful discourse on the issues, this move set politics back another step.