Decision Time Comes Near

bradhBy Brad Hodge
Published: April 19, 2014

 

Three years have passed since the election of 2011, when 26 candidates rushed to fill several vacancies.  With so many voices, it was difficult to discern a theme and the result was pretty much a mish-mash of ideas and visions. 

This indecision explains a lot of what has been going on with council.  At times council seems to be almost chronically unable to make decisions (entrance sign, SODC), especially any that are contentious. 

At other times, council explodes in a flurry of activity (drive-thru amendment).  There are hints as to where councillors stand politically with each vote, but even that at times is tentative.  Has council been a failure?  No. But there is rising concern in the community that council is not reflecting the community’s desires.  With the town in flux, it is hard to discern what those are.

Some have tried to distill the differences in the community into ‘New Squamish’ and ‘Old Squamish’, but it’s not that simple.  With ‘only’ 15 years here, I would surely be considered ‘New Squamish’.  But I’m not – my attitudes on industry put me at odds with the young urban professional demographic, even though we align on most social issues.  I’m also a fiscal hawk.  It’s complicated.  I’ve met ‘old-timers’ who are totally in the ‘progressive’ camp.   But I think things are slowly distilling to a choice

Following the Olympic announcement, we were sold on a so called ‘Rec-Tec’ vision for the community.  Industry wasn’t necessary.  The future would be knowledge based, with white collar replacing blue collar.  We could have it all: a thriving local economy with none of the pollution (chemical or aesthetic) of old.  Frankly I never was sold on that vision.  I moved to Squamish, in fact, because I liked its blue collar grit.  The BC Dream was achievable here: you could have the beautiful surroundings, but also could afford a house and have a decent job. 

I fear that has been slipping away, and that that is exactly how some want it.  Witness the histrionics over the proposed LNG facility, or any industrial development proposed in the last decade.  Meanwhile, social engineering in the form of drive-thru bans and attempts to direct commercial development have been percolating up.  Home ownership for a modest family?  Forget it.

I think that 2014 needs to be the deciding point.  Fewer candidates would help (I am not planning on running).  Candidates advancing a specific vision would be good.  Maybe a slate or two offering distinct visions. 

From my perspective, the choice is a more urbanized Squamish, in tune with the political sensitivities of the city, or a more typical small town with (hopefully) a fairly diverse economy that includes industry.  Collectivism vs. personal liberty. 

With an extra year added to council’s term, it is more important than ever that the vision be decided, and more importantly, acted consistently upon.

           

Comments

  1. Richard Tripp says:

    A slate or two would certainly simplfy things for the voters. I broached that subject with a few candidates last time around and it seems none were game. Recent history regarding the New Directions slate was offered up as a reason. My feeling then was that most were concerned about aligning themselves with the wrong (read losing) candidates and felt it was more important to be elected as individuals rather than set the goal of unseating the so called Gang of Three.

    On one hand a group(s) stating a clear platform and set of goals, backed up with a plan of how it would be achieved seems like exactly what is needed to get more action and less talk, reports and studies. On the other hand that’s kinda how they donut provincially and federally and few if any of us are finding satisfaction on those fronts are we?

    If replacing the past due participants with fresh blood is the goal perhaps setting aside individual agendas and egos in favour of presenting a progressivly united front for signifigant change would draw out enough of those who chose to stay at home instead of voting to bring that change in.

    In any event, as my personal future no longer depends as heavily upon the outcome as I felt it did last round I am looking forward to the show in whatever form it takes.

  2. G_h says:

    Good article. I would love to see a slate of councillors purely focused on keeping taxes under control. Currently it seems the gang of three (tarnished by association by the SODC fiasco) don’t have the credibility or energy, whilst who knows what the grandstanding / gesture-politics crew (Braynless, the no-drive-throughs lady, etc) really want?

  3. Brad Hodge says:

    In fairness, I think the crew that is in there have done some good things. I’ve watched the infrastructure file carefully as it kind of mirrors, in a much bigger way, the issues we face here in our tiny Co-Op. They have done some good work there. They have also done some not so good things, things that I don’t understand why they are doing because they undermine and sabotage everything else.

    I have mixed feelings about party politics generally and especially at the muni level. But I think, once in a while, it doesn’t hurt. The problem with electing individually is you really don’t know what sort of majority you’ve sent up there. I think the LNG proposal, the drive-thru ‘regulation’ (I have been discouraged from using the word ban) and other episodes suggest the town needs to have a conversation about what mix of business and opportunity we want to be here and make a decision once and for all. I don’t think there is a right or wrong here — I think it’s a multiplicity of opinions that need to be distilled down. Personally, I would like a fiscally responsible small town that knows its limitations on services, keeps taxes low and encourages a very diverse mix of business so as not to be relying too much on one thing or the other. I’m not looking for big visionary stuff this time.

    I’m looking for competent, consistent government that has a mandate to do what it’s doing, whatever that is. And if I don’t like the direction the community has chosen, I can suck it up or I can leave. But I want to know that we’ve decided on a direction, instead of playing pop goes the weasel with support or protest to random business ideas, or crazy policy. I think a slate, one or two cycles, would be useful.
    And a slate doesn’t have to behave like the provincial or federal parties do. Slates don’t even legally have to be incorporated. They are simply a collection of 50 (minimum) or more concerned citizens who want to advance certain key themes. I’m pretty sure SND councillors diverged once in a while.