EDITORIAL: Public process brings success

Controversy over development projects can lead to better progress.

A project open to public scrutiny and feedback – both positive and negative – is likely to benefit from both.

Opposition from the start can ultimately lead to additional research and decisions better thought through by those elected to represent the people.

And if projects survive the process, chances are they will likely be good for the community.

A case in point is the Larry McNabb Sports Zone on Third Street housing the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, Nanaimo Ice Centre and Serauxmen Sports Fields.

Controversy surrounded each project, from the removal of black locust trees to make way for the Third Street connector in 1998 to the $15-million price tag for the NAC, and demolishing the downtown Civic Arena and putting up twin ice sheets.

But now, as the NAC turns 10 years old, most cannot imagine life without the sports zone. Politicians of the day stuck to their guns and made what might have been unpopular decisions to some, but proved to be the right ones for a growing community.

Those decisions took Nanaimo from what was a highly under-served town, in terms of recreational facilities, to one that is the envy of many municipalities.

The city’s growth in the past 10 years has proven the forethought and perseverance of city politicians such as McNabb and Jack Little was well worth the grilling they took from a doubting public. It was the questions raised by the public that played a large role in the success.

Will we be saying the same thing in 10 years about other controversial projects such as the Port of Nanaimo Centre and its conference centre? Only time will tell.