Keeping up with boring democracy

People in Ashcroft and Loon Lake found themselves in a similar situation last week. They felt like they’d been left out of the loop in the decision-making process.

Or, as Barbara Hendricks in Loon Lake put it, “participatory democracy at the grass roots level.”

That’s been an issue for as long as there’s been democracy.

It’s a hard slog, keeping on top of your elected officials by knowing what they’re discussing at any given time and questioning them about it. So many way more interesting things to do instead.

Until suddenly we’re faced with a decision made that hits us in the wallet, or takes away a favourite sports field, or dumps a noisy 10-storey casino next door, and then we’re all for getting involved.

Usually, these issues have been discussed for some time prior to the final decision being made. And usually there are written accounts, reports, etc. that go out to the public through the traditional means.

I often write in this column about how the public should attend council meetings, or at least become more involved by talking to our councillors.

Unfortunately, some people who should be paying attention think that reading The Journal has as much value as attending a council meeting. They won’t be reading this editorial either, so, as usual, I’m left preaching to the choir.

Ashcroft’s tax increase was covered at least twice in The Journal back in April, and the Village put notices in people’s mail boxes. Like Mayor Anderson said, we can’t force people to read.

And yes, it is our democratic right to have our say, but it’s more effective to give input at the beginning of the decision-making than at the end.

We are fortunate that we don’t have far to travel to attend council meetings – unlike Loon Lake and other rural residents who have to travel out of their communities.

Democracy works best when we’re all involved from the beginning.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal