Engage a community with a real conversation

I was going to ignore Mr. Upward’s first letter attacking me, but I can’t ignore his second.

I was going to ignore Mr. Upward’s first letter attacking me, but I can’t ignore his second.

Despite accusing me of distorting facts, Mr. Upward (a developer) fails to point out where I do so. I stand by my assertions: development increases taxes; the proposed developments are departures from the OCP, the Regional Growth Strategy and the Regional Context Statement; and North Sanich residents should be consulted before changes are made to them.

Furthermore, it’s questionable whether advancing developments, as our council is doing, before even consulting residents, is conducive to genuine, open-minded consultation.

What I really want to address now is this trend I’m noticing among those who seem to have no problem with advancing projects that go against our OCP.  It seems if anyone questions the process by which this is being done, we are immediately labeled backward-looking, anti-development and NIMBYs. It’s assumed that those who are not immediately “for” something, are automatically “against” it. Those of us who ask for a measured and well-thought-out plan that consults the people who will have to live with it and pay for it are dismissed out of hand.

So let’s drop the name-calling and personal attacks and actually engage as a community in a real conversation that looks at demonstrable facts.  What we need is a climate where intellectual rigour and accountability are valued, where our decisions are based on data and facts, where housing that’s ostensibly intended for a certain group is actually affordable for that group, where the majority of stakeholders are actually consulted and genuinely listened to early in the process, and where those of us who ask the necessary questions that should be asked, inside or outside the council chambers, are not attacked or ridiculed.

If Mr. Upward were listening, he would know that I am on the record as being pro-process, and not anti-development.

He and Ms. Eaton also claim I am afraid that the coming generation wants inclusion in the future of North Saanich. Nonsense!  Since they are my neighbours, they well know that I have two children entering their 20s. I’ve spent hundreds of volunteer hours working with children and youth. It’s precisely for the coming generations that I feel compelled to speak out for a long-term vision, not short-sighted projects that are being fast-tracked through Council.

If that’s the Norman Rockwell postcard that Mr. Upward pokes fun at, then I’m all for it. Mr. Upward’s reality is far bleaker.

Bernadette Greene

North Saanich