I think it’s only fair to offer a suggestion of how I might imagine the whole issue of the ‘age in place’ review and approval by council might have been handled. Actually I have two suggestions. I prefer the first approach.
The better way to have handled the review and approval would have been to discuss the matter in closed session if that was the preferred approach to determine if there was support for bringing it to the open council meeting. From there it would have been appropriate to schedule it for formal review and vote at the following session of open council, generally two weeks later. That would have meant the item would have been put on the agenda for the open meeting allowing the public to see that it was to be discussed. It would have also included the proposed by-law. The council meeting package would have included the proposal(s) and the usual staff review and recommendation. Now that would have been transparency. At the open meeting of council there would have been open discussion and a vote. People wishing to comment on the proposal could have written a letter or made a deputation during the open portion of the council meeting.
A less attractive alternative, if there was some sense of urgency, would have been to review the proposal in closed session of council and then place it on the open session of council that immediately followed. But, council would have at that point advised the public that the late addition to the agenda was an exceptional issue that required expedited review. Then, when the item was reviewed, council could have provided the public with the outlines of the proposal, the reasons for the expedited review process, and then openly discussed the proposal as they do almost all other proposals. The public would have been able to understand the issues and the considerations impacting the decision and the limited review time permitted the public. After a vote council could have directed staff to hold a public meeting in the next few days to provide the community with more detailed information on the nature and impact of the proposal. The ‘age in place’ development is in fact a very big deal, one that could have significant impact on further development in the town, for good or for ill, and one the voters and taxpayers should be given the opportunity to fully understand.
But I guess council and staff assume the public really doesn’t care about, or pay attention to, what they do. Perhaps they feel that as long as the roads are plowed, taxes aren’t raised too high, and there is heat in the BOCC they have no real responsibility to communicate their actions and decisions. (Trust us! Does government ever lie?) But we do care, and we watch what happens.
So, what and when are you going to tell us more about a big investment in power generation capacity at the Cascade Street Generating Station? That’s the real biggie, about $15 to 20 million worth. We will get some opportunity to review, discuss and provide input, won’t we?
We’re not deaf or dumb. If we don’t understand the what and why of what you are doing it means you aren’t getting your message across. If we don’t understand we can’t trust.