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Respect volunteers

Respect volunteers

(re Mayor’s Message, the Local, Aug. 17)

Why on earth would anyone take up Mayor Milne’s invitation for volunteer public input when Mayor, Council and Staff do not feel bound by the results?  The Official Community Plan (OCP) for example, is based on countless volunteer hours but ignored by successive District administrations when they find it expedient.

Sometimes, with critical mass protest, there is debate and, perhaps, compliance. Sometimes, when too few voters are affected to make effective protest, or the perceived benefits of increased tax base or other concessions are too enticing to resist, or it is too difficult/time consuming to actually research and learn about an issue, there is no debate.  The path of least resistance is often taken.

My personal experience is with high density residential development on the ecologically sensitive Chapman Creek watershed and flood plain. Painstaking and time-consuming research on the issue was presented in printed handouts and verbal presentations detailing environmental (watershed) and safety (floodplain) issues based on the OCP, district funded reports and related documents.  These were unacknowledged and unanimously disregarded by the present Mayor, Council and Staff.  Optics and expediency trumped the OCP.

I am sure this experience is not unique to me or the District of Sechelt.  One of the reasons my husband and I moved here from Vancouver in the early years of this century was City of Vancouver volunteer burnout.  Our many hours of unpaid work resulted in a lovely Neighbourhood Plan that was overridden by Mayor, Council and Staff before the ink had dried.

Volunteerism is a wonderful thing, but needs to be wisely focused for best return on investment.  I continue to volunteer, but do so with non-government organizations.  Difficult politics are everywhere, but with NGO’s one has at least a fighting chance of making a difference.

Rebecca Pavitt, Sechel

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