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The trust gap



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I wonder how long it took those ancient Greeks to get cynical about the democracy concept? I suspect it was probably around 2,499 years ago.

After the vote, a defeated Mayor Ken Melamed noted that, "It was naïve of me to think that anybody could make that decision that didn't have access to the same information that our lawyers had, and that was most unfortunate."

Bingo. That's what columnists such as myself and residents from Cheakamus Crossing have been arguing from the beginning - release the information and the legal opinion, or you'll never convince people to share it. The fact that three and then four councillors were willing to vote against rezoning - and that a noted environmental lawyer contradicted the municipality's case - didn't give people a lot of faith. So far I haven't heard one good reason for keeping this legal opinion private, and with an absence of solid reasons people tend to make up their own. The conspiracy theory is born.

In the last few months I've heard a lot of speculation as to what that opinion might contain or reveal - something that makes a high-ranking member of staff look bad, or highlights a mistake made by the municipality years ago, before or after the plans for Cheakamus Crossing were considered. I've heard suspicions that there was a backroom deal made with a private operator or the province that could be embarrassing or might open them up to legal action. I've heard that the RMOW didn't do its homework, and completely overlooked the plant until residents brought it to their attention.

I find it hard to believe any of these things, and tend to subscribe to the idea that this was all just a series of mistakes made in the rush to deliver the Games. Alpine Paving's status and current zoning notwithstanding, this is something that really should have been dealt with before the location for the athletes' village was finalized. As great as the neighbourhood is, I've seen the trucks, heard the machinery and watched plumes of smoke rise over the hill - it's not the kind of thing you want to live next to, even if I do feel the whole "it's toxic and you're killing our children" argument was overplayed.

So, it's back to the drawing board. If nothing else, at least the asphalt plant's opponents succeeded in making the RMOW's legal opinion more or less irrelevant, whatever it said. Still, I would have liked to read it for myself - the mayor was quite right about that.