Spirited debate important part of democracy

Dear editor,

Dear editor,

I am a landowner in Union Bay.

I am also a member of a loosely organized group of ratepayers called TAG or Taxpayers for Accountable Governance. We have a membership of approximately 300 or 21 per cent of the 1,440 potential voters residing in the Improvement District.

Campaigning on a platform of openness and accountability, two TAG candidates were elected by a large majority or two-thirds of the electorate in attendance April 14, 2010.

What is particularly noteworthy is that 38 per cent of Union Bay landowners took the time to vote.

This is an unprecedented turnout in any election these days, but especially so in an improvement district.

TAG formed about one and a half years ago because the Improvement District (UBID) board was perceived as being out of touch with the community and out of control with its spending. Central to TAG is transparency, accountability and planning.

What TAG is concerned about is the unapproachable, unassailable attitude of the majority on the board of directors. The UBID is run as though it were a personal fiefdom.

To be sure, they have an agenda, as do all of us. TAG is taking issue with how this board is conducting the public’s business.

When you step back from the detail of the issues and TAG initiatives, what I am pleased about and about which I’m writing, is the big picture.

In this big picture, the electorate is involved in a meaningful manner in their community. People are learning about the levers of government.

Whoever thought that residents would be studying the Local Government Act? When was the last time anyone contacted, never mind requested, the minister of community and rural development to do an investigation of an improvement district?

Eighty-three Union Bay residents did so recently.

Did you know there is an inspector of municipalities? Did you know that this office is understaffed and under-resourced?

Did you know that in B.C., we have a comptroller of water rights? I do and I know why now.

When I ask myself why are people involved, I find that it isn’t purely for monetary reasons, although the financial consequences may be dire. It’s about being a part of the debate; it’s about having a voice in our community.

Can you imagine a town, city or province with an involved, engaged citizenry? I think what we are experiencing in little Union Bay, although acrimonious at times, is exceptional and to be applauded.

This spirited debate is what makes a democracy so vital to the creation of a healthy community. It is alive here and cannot be shut down by closing public meetings.

Moreover, this spirit is perhaps the leading edge of something bigger to come, locally, provincially and perhaps nationally. I leave that for you and your readers to decide.

Eugene Hrushowy,

Union Bay

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