As we take time for family and the Holidays, we know we are under the shadow of something that could permanently change our town.
I hope this will not come to pass, and I think we need to consider the root cause of this threat. It’s not a mayor with political aspirations, and it’s not a weak and easily bullied council. It’s not even a predatory and reckless provincial government who will sell anything to be open for business.
No. The real cause, the root cause of the whole thing, is the lack of a local news infrastructure. No one saw this coming. No one understood the issues. No one was prepared.
How else could there be two years of negotiations on an environmentally dirty deal while Council watched our youth organize and ultimately succeed in their demand for a municipal declaration of climate emergency? Only when people are able to avoid uncomfortable questions can such a thing happen.
This is not new. We saw it when the RNG treatment plant was approved, despite the protests of hundreds of angry citizens, many of whom, I might add, were treated very poorly by the City. Here’s how it works:
Keep them in the dark.
Tell them it’s a “done deal.”
Shame them for not acting earlier.
Fair and functioning municipal government requires an informed citizenry. One local newspaper, owned by an American media conglomerate and with a skeleton staff stretched to cover a wide variety of issues, cannot provide this.
Democracy really begins here at the local level. Local passivity fuels provincial rapacity, and the double-dealing works its way up to the top. We need to be vigilant, proactive, and we need to be informed.
But for now, it’s the holidays, and I hope everyone has a peaceful and restful time. I hope everyone is near someone they love. Let’s forget about it for just a little while. In New Year, let’s work to find out everything we can about this “done deal,” and make sure that our information is correct and well resourced. Then, let’s share what we know as widely as we can, because it looks like we’re going to have to be our own news infrastructure.