To the editor:
Thanks to all who attended the recent Okanagan Centre Front Porch Meeting—even to the bullies who tried to derail this particular community meeting by yelling and stomping their feet.
These meetings are a part of council’s consultation with the community. Other forms of consultation are in talking individually to residents, reading their letters and emails and listening to them at open houses and council meetings. Consultation, and even democracy, does not mean you will always get your way.
I understand that some people who attended the front porch meeting were upset that they were not consulted prior to the removal of their shed, boathouse or other illegal structures from the public beach back in March of this year. However, it is not municipal policy, in Lake Country nor any other municipality across B.C., to ask if it’s OK if your illegal shed is removed, and then check in with your feelings before actually removing it.
I also understand that some people who attended the front porch meeting were upset that they were not consulted before the old packinghouse pilings were removed north of Camp Road. A nod to our agricultural past for sure, but also a safety hazard to boaters and swimmers as these pilings were essentially nothing more than rotting wood. During an annual risk assessment, the district’s insurer suggested removal due to the significant risk they posed, with the result that Lake Country taxpayers would be on the hook for this risk. In light of these comments and discussion with Heritage BC, the decision was made that the pilings should be removed. The removal was carried out using a grant from the insurer and approved by the council of the day.
I understand the need to vent, perhaps my husband even more so, but community consultation is a two way dialogue with all members of the community, not just the loudest individuals attending a front porch meeting.
Front porch attendance is not mandatory to have your say in Okanagan Centre, however it is desirable, because we, as council, get to hear some valid community concerns, and if we’re lucky some great ideas to try and move forward.
The final word of the evening went to the wise and long-time Okanagan Centre resident Anne Land: “You can’t please everyone.”
This was never more apparent than at this front porch.
However, what we can do is be civil with our neighbours and newcomers to the community, and respectful of the democratic process. We’re in this together.
Let’s remember that as we try and make this community a better place not only for ourselves but for those who will follow.
councillor, District of Lake Country,