Elected officials must set aside opinions

Every elected council member must consider the wellbeing and interests of the municipality and its community s/he was elected to serve.

Every elected council member must consider the wellbeing and interests of the municipality and its community s/he was elected to serve. It is not optional because it’s the law (section 115 of the Community Charter).

Nonetheless, some elected officials still lose sight of this mandated commitment and, instead, allow their decisions to be clouded by personal bias, opinions, and so forth, instead of making sure their decisions are informed by the voice of the community they were elected to serve.

Elected councillors deal with high a volume of sometimes complex information, so I suppose it’s understandable that some of them can get lost and lose sight of their mandate. That being said, it is not an excuse for ignoring what the people want. Council’s decision to approve the Donnay matter, along with other questionable decisions on matters of immense significance to North Cowichan, make it clear that some councillors have allowed their focus to shift away from their responsibility to the electorate [read: you and me].

When you listen to the rationale behind some recent voting decisions, it’s clear that biases, opinions are being substituted for the voice of the community. Consider the fact that a large number of residents believe the Donnay proposal to be a poorly conceived and unnecessary development. Bordering directly on heritage lands with some of the oldest homes in the Valley, this is a kind of development that completely contrasts with the character of the Maple Bay/Quamichan Lake area. It will ruin the existing look and feel of the neighbourhood. Not to mention the fact that it is not practical for the people who would potentially live there (i.e. no transit, Maple Bay School is full, etc.).

Whether it be the overwhelming opposition to the Berkey’s Corner rezoning or the Donnay rezoning (two examples of many), the exact same group of councillors ignore the compelling direction expressed by the electorate. Given the views expressed by this group of councillors, it is evident that their sensitivity and goodwill to development applicants trumps their responsibilities to the community, as set out in the Community Charter (not to mention their oath sworn at the time they took office).

An elected official that can’t set aside personal views/opinions on matters before them poses a risk to the community in addition to compromising the purpose of the role of an elected person! It’s unfortunate and also in conflict with provincial statutes that set out the expected conduct and responsibilities of elected officials.

 

V.A. Bramhill

Duncan