Column: Will the no-side please stand up

LC Calendar reporter Kevin Parnell says organizers of a door to door campaign against CN Rail purchase should stand behind campaign

I tried to get a hold of one of the organizers of the no campaign in Lake Country’s failed AAP on borrowing money to purchase the CN Rail corridor last week to ask about the opposition to the district’s attempts to purchase part of the corridor.

And while I was successful in finding at least one person responsible for floating what the district said was misinformation out into the community, getting him to talk on the record was a different matter.

It is hard to quote a dial-tone, don’t ya know.

When Lake Country decided to hold an alternative approval process to try and gain voters assent to borrow $2.6 million, it was assumed, at least by the media, that the process would be successful.

Termed controversial anytime it is used, an AAP only needs 10 per cent of the public to say no to vote it down. Those in favour of whatever the AAP is asking, need not do a thing. It’s a cheaper, and some would argue easier, way to get voters to approve something.

But it didn’t work out that way in Lake Country, partly due to a campaign that began late in the five week process with a door-to-door distribution of some “facts” on the proposed borrowing bylaw.

Whoever was distributing the sheets also came forward to the Lake Country Calendar, purchasing an ad that had all of the same (mis) information as the hand-outs you may or may not have received in your mail box.

This campaign came after the district had held two open houses on the AAP and also posted the information on its web site. Confident that most people were in support in Lake Country, the district allowed the process to move forward, only sending out more public information and a fact sheet, once it realized the no side had taken steps to thwart the process with inaccurate information.

And so after the AAP failed, it felt like a legitimate question to the no side to get their comment.

But apparently they don’t want to talk.

When I phoned the man who purchased an ad in the Calendar, I was hung up on after asking for a comment on the process. When I phoned back and asked a few more questions I had the same response.

I have the man’s name and address sitting right in front of me. I’ve confirmed it and could post it here in this column but I won’t do that. What I can tell you when he came into the Calendar offices he didn’t seem to have accurate information on the potential purchase. He even asked those in our office what might be some reasons to oppose the deal. It was at this point, as a reporter, I decided I did not wish to discuss the issue with someone who was not informed. He then decided to buy an ad but was adamant his name not be used and instead it was noted he was a concerned taxpayer. We probably should have shown him the door at this point.

Contacting him on a Vancouver cell phone, I asked the man whether he was a full-time Lake Country resident and received a no comment.

I asked why he didn’t want to talk. Nothing. I said I thought he would be happy the process failed and he said that may be true but he wasn’t going to say.

I said I just want to talk to someone on the no side. He said he would find someone and get back to me.

Then all I heard was a dial tone. And I’m still waiting for the call-back from the group. Or maybe it was just a one-man show to attempt to scuttle the process with mis-information. Maybe he wants to purchase part of the corridor himself, what could be the next step if the municipalities can’t make a deal.

In the end the process failed by less than 30 votes. Some people were talked into a no vote, then asked for their ballot back when they were given the proper information.

Many people called the district and were confused about the facts.

The no campaign had its desired effect. The AAP failed and now the process is continuing as the group tries to find another way. Maybe a referendum. Maybe not.

But whatever you receive in your mail, or in your newspaper, it might be best to question it before following along blindly.

As for the no side, there is still time to stand up for what you believe in and answer a few questions. For now, your no comment is speaking volumes.