The writer from North Saanich asks “Is anybody listening?” I have been a vocal critic of our council on more than one occasion but here I have to comment in their defense. As a Sidney resident I could reverse the question and ask, “Is anybody communicating?”
During the last municipal elections the Sidney councillors heard loud and clear that residents wanted a more open local government after the Cross administration and they have responded. The town website www.sidney.ca has been revamped and is first class. It has the email addresses, phone numbers and all contact details for the mayor and council as well as the staff. Council meeting minutes as well as full details of upcoming meeting agendas are available and it is easy to subscribe to notifications of changes and updates. A project to make these documents easier to search and read is underway. The town has now both a Facebook and Twitter account and invites comments as well as distributing news and updates. Individual councillors have their own accounts as well. I have found councillors approachable for one on one discussions and I know they are looking for input.
I regularly, though not always, attend council and committee of the whole meetings and it’s never crowded unless an issue affects a particular small group. The open house on the new Safety building proposal, surely one of the biggest and most expensive projects being considered by Sidney, attracted 150 people out of an 11,000 population. The recent open house where the mayor and council sought input on any concerns or ideas that residents may have was very poorly attended when I showed up. Maybe a separate flyer in the PNR advertising these events would help as many don’t pay attention to official announcement ads. but that’s a question for council. So, I would say that, at least in Sidney, there are people listening.
The proposal by the Victoria Airport Authority (who are swimming in cash as attending their annual meeting or checking out http://www.victoriaairport.com/library will tell you) are proposing a development that will have a major and long lasting impact on Sidney. Our mayor and councillors are open to listening so it is up to us to get in contact and let our voices be heard.