The Alternate Approval Process has taken a lot of criticism over the last year.
It’s been called everything from sneaky to undemocratic, as have the local governments who have used it.
And yet, upon close examination, we really don’t think it’s that bad.
Is it a perfect system? No. Has it been used when it really might have been better to get approval through another method? Yes, but not often.
We doubt this will be a particularly popular conclusion.
So let’s take a look at why we think the torches and pitchforks aimed squarely at the AAP are perhaps a little much.
First, the AAP is the regional district’s tool to be able to gauge public support for a possible expenditure without going to referendum.
Why not go to referendum over everything, you ask?
Cost. Referendums are much more expensive to conduct, hence why they are usually done only in concert with another election.
If you don’t like how high your taxes are now, and they’re going to be going up in 2016, you definitely don’t want to know what the bill would be if every one of these types of financial decisions suddenly started going out to a general vote.
And let’s face it, the number of people who bother to vote in a municipal referendum is usually pretty darn small, after all that.
People have the same chance to weigh in with the AAP. And unlike with a referendum, it only takes 10 per cent opposed to stop an idea for at the least more consideration. That’s a pretty low threshold to stop a proposal.
Many opposed to the AAP argue that these things just slip by quietly, and the general population (whom they always seem to assume will be on their side) don’t know about it, and that’s why they pass.
But these things are not done in secret. The regional district advertises AAPs as they are required to, and on most occasions this newspaper and others in the news business write stories about the issues at hand, further notifying people of what is coming up.
We firmly believe that citizens do have a certain amount of responsiblility to find out what is going on in their communities if they want to have a say in how they are run.
We think it would be great if there was an email list for those who want to be notified of every AAP as it comes up. That would be an improvement.
There have been instances where it would have been better to wait to conduct a referendum on a particular subject, which would not have suffered from the time lag, but we don’t think that applies to most of them.
All in all, the AAP gives us more say than we have in most financial decisions made by incorporated communities.