On Wednesday, April 22 I attended a public meeting hosted by Imperial Metals in Williams Lake.
The meeting was intended to be a communications and comment meeting relating to application for the proposed restart of Mount Polley Mine.
A great deal of technical information relating to the short- and long-term environmental challenges around the re-opening, including safe water discharge and the regulatory processes governing this discharge, was presented.
It should have engendered questions and clarification. It could have helped the community discuss this issue in a more informed way.
It might have contributed to better decision making.
Unfortunately, the ability to ask questions and seek information on these important issues was lost in a politicized show of strength. This atmosphere was largely created and encouraged by our local council and mayor through their defensive approach to the issue.
Not only did the mayor and council define and promote the “politically correct” position prior to allowing us to attend this informational meeting, but they publicly badgered others who spoke in favour of allowing us to become informed prior to adopting a position.
Clearly their goal was to stifle open discussion if not to create an atmosphere of fear clouding the process.
I was sorely disappointed to witness the divisive outcome of these tactics. I went to learn and I went to listen.
I had hoped I would be able to reach some conclusions for myself based on reason rather than emotion.
This opportunity was seriously impaired. A democracy does not exist that cannot keep its mind, its ear and its heart open and that does not encourage its citizens to do the same.
Attempting to “win” through intimidation and the exertion of power is long-term destructive. I think we call it bullying.
The timing of the mayor and council’s statement of position and the rebuke of others who did not follow their lead was an affront to due process and should not be supported regardless of one’s position on any issue.
It resulted in a meeting that was less informative than it could have been and more of a power struggle than it should have been.
Rather they had encouraged and promoted a discussion that began on the common ground of genuine concern for the well being of our community and all its citizens; and then listened.
Perhaps they would have gained respect; or even insight. I know I came away from the meeting more concerned about our governance than I was about the mine.