Poor turnout for Town Hall meeting

Author has some ideas on how to make Town Hall meetings more user friendly.

Dear Editor

It has always amazed me, how many people have something to say or to criticize about the decisions that Council in Ashcroft make. They question the priorities. Sometimes harshly. Yet, when the time and opportunity is given for them to speak up about their concerns, such as, at Town Hall meetings, and at Council’s Committees as a Whole, they are absent. Not a peep out of any of them. Why is this?

It is not enough to blame “human nature”. That is, the unwillingness or inability to speak in public. I think it is probably considered safer to confine opinions to the coffee hour with a few, or to do the usual armchair supervising. Yet, how is council to know how people really feel about anything? If no one writes a letter to the editor. Or attends a public meeting inviting input?

Last Monday’s Town Hall meeting was a case in point. I thought the attendance was minimal. Maybe 50 persons. That was considered “good” by one council member. I kept thinking about whole neighborhoods in Ashcroft who did not bother to attend.

Of course, there are often valid reasons why attending these functions can be frustrating. People do not always speak clearly, and do not project their voices to be heard. Not everyone has the stentorian tonsils that I have. Still, there were a few glaring inadequacies at Ashcroft Town Hall’s meeting that night.

One was the need for a speaker system. Microphones, and such at the tables. I am surprised that Council hasn’t seen the need for this, or, if they have, not done something about it. Cache Creek has a capable system that conveys everything to a full capacity community hall and has had it for years.

The use of the overhead projector didn’t help much. The facts and the figures were small and barely visible, unless you had 20-20 vision and the eyes of an eagle. My hearing is not what it used to be. And the financial clerk speaking from a chair without a microphone, speaking to her computer, didn’t help.

It would help very much if people in the audience were advised to rise and speak when they had something to say. Speaking from a chair in the middle of a hall surrounded by others can often be hard to hear from any distance, though I commend Bob who had the voice to be heard.

Just a few suggestions about presentation.

I hope that the analysis of how and where the taxpayer’s money is spent by our municipal government will provide some background to those who expect and hope for funding from this source. It must be obvious to even the most hopeful that there is barely enough to cover the expenses of running a highly efficient, progressive community like ours.

Let’s be realistic. Governments at every level have had to cut back drastically in some circumstances. Thousands of government employees are being laid off or dismissed.

If we want the Opera House to re-open, it will have to be private money that is the chief source. That is simply a fact of life.

Some years ago, the community of Loon Lake badly needed a community hall. They all got together and determined what was needed, and how to get it. That community made the news because, without government help, they built a very fine facility. Everything was donated and volunteered.

I think that is how things will have to be done today.

Esther Darlington MacDonald

Ashcroft