To the Editor,
Re: Council unmoved on dam destruction desite impassioned speakers, June 13.
One of the key principles of municipal government in the Community Charter is, “authority to determine the public interest of their communities, within a legislative framework that supports balance and certainty in relation to the differing interests of their communities.”
The problem is, as is evident in the Colliery Dam Park dams matter, that Nanaimo has no effective process to carry out this principle. This is especially evident when it comes to costly and controversial projects.
There has been much talk of openness, transparency and consultation, but there has been little action. And when the going gets tough, the tendency is to revert to the old ways of secrecy and expediency.
There is a more practical approach to dealing with controversial public issues like the Colliery dams which is called ‘public dispute resolution.’
The following is a quote from “The Public Disputes Program” offered by Harvard Law School.
“There are all kinds of public disputes happening at every level of governance. At present, they are either worked out behind-the-scenes by top level political decision-makers, become the focus of long and costly litigation, or find their way on to the legislative agenda.
“While each of these approaches has its strengths and weaknesses, the typical outcome often seems unfair or unresponsive to the groups and individuals most involved. Often, a great deal of time and money is wasted. While the least objectionable result often emerges, this usually means that outcomes that would be better for everyone are left undiscovered.
“Finally, the best scientific and technical advice is brushed aside as the politicians maneuver for short-term electoral advantage.”
This is an example of a program the city could investigate and adopt to try and get out of the persistent negative spiral it finds itself in with various constituencies of the public.