Opinion » Editorial


Issues of the day demand accountability



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As I read over the lengthy and detailed report in the council package recently, I thought our lawmakers must have been considering this.

Then Mayor Ken Melamed stated at council last week, following the propontent's presentation: "I'm a little disappointed in our staff, frankly."

He went on to explain that under Whistler 2020 it is clearly articulated that Whistler does not want to expand its industrial footprint in the Callaghan area.

"I'm disappointed that staff bounced you this far down the road," continued Melamed.

This jogged my memory to a council meeting in January where Melamed, Councillor Ralph Forsyth and Councillor Eckhard Zeidler asked questions about the expenditures on several budget items, including Bayly Park at Cheakamus Crossing and the improvements at Lakeside Park, estimated to cost $240,000 and the decommissioning of surface water intakes.

Some were items that they had asked staff about before, requesting staff look at whether or not the costs could be scaled back.

Why then, they wondered out loud, were the exact same figures before them.

Said Melamed: "Frankly we did talk about many of these issues at preliminary budget sessions. Some of us have expressed concerns that they haven't been fully explored or addressed..."

Back the items went to staff and some changes were forthcoming at the last council meeting with funds for Bayly Park cut by close to 50 per cent.

As we absorb the ongoing information on these stories and others impacting our home, all are taking on a changing significance as we grasp that a municipal election is getting closer and closer, though first we will likely be casting a ballot federally.

We have seen a citizens' group grow locally in many ways as a direct result of this growing understanding.

But more is needed. People need to understand more fully how local government operates. Many have the simplistic view that we elect people we believe will get the job done and move on the items we want without the depth of understanding that government is about balance.

Staff, like federal civil servants, has power and knowledge. They don't leave just because there are new people in the chairs of the elected.

As our elected team heads into the head-hunting phase of choosing a new leader for our staff, let's hope they keep front and centre that all staff are accountable.

After all, on a daily basis, they are the stewards that residents, small business owners, visitors, investors and our environment rely on to keep the wolves at bay.

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