OUR VIEW: The long and winding trail

Ever wonder why it can sometimes take forever for the wheels of local government to make a single turn?

Ever wonder why it can sometimes take forever for the wheels of local government — or any level of government for that matter — to make a single turn?

Sometimes, those wheels kinda steer themselves through the longest, most convoluted path to reach a destination that others might think was reachable faster by the most direct route. And why the direct route was missed, they’ll never know.

There’s a sample of process gone off the track available now, if anyone cares to listen to it. It’s the more than one-hour-long conversation North Saanich council had this week over whether to spend $120,000 on four new sport courts specifically for pickleball.

Now, North Saanich council regularly enjoys long discussions about a variety of issues. But this one — emphasized by the fact that most, if not all, of council saw value in building those courts — went on longer than it should have.

The problem, it seems, lies in how much pushback they get or even how much the councillors perceive there to be a problem with any particular issue. So, when deciding if a legitimate group of potential park users deserve space of their own in a public area, one would think making up one’s mind would be straightforward.

Yet, throw in a few complaints, and logic and reason seems to fly out the window.

Had council actually valued the new user group (pickleball — and to be fair, it is a growing sport on the Peninsula) from the outset, it should have been a matter of saying: “Yes, we’ll build courts, we’ll do it (here) and we’ll have our staff determine the exact spot and how to mitigate the concerns. Can we afford it? Yes? Done deal.”

Or not, if that was council and the community’s wish.

In the end, the decision itself appears to be the right one, for people who wish to use public spaces should be able to do so and even those with concerns about it are supportive of them getting the outdoor facilities.

Getting to that decision, however, took far too many turns, caused by a lack of specific focus, and steered by too many micro-managers.

It’s one thing to let go of the steering wheel when it’s clearly not appropriate to do so.

It’s quite another to take long drives with no map.

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