Re: Policing proposal trotted out, Feb. 21, The News.
It is interesting that after the information meeting on Feb. 18 Mayor [Bill] Dingwall says “residents are backing council as it moves towards having its own RCMP detachment.”
I attended the meeting and watched the video and my perception is much different.
It was clear to me that the majority of people who spoke had concerns about the proposal and there were very few who were in favour.
Perhaps council was not open to hearing the concerns raised but others seemed to hear the concerns based on comments such as “I’ve heard a lot of people talking against this separate detachment.”
One person even stated: “listen to people when we say no, we don’t want that. It’s not necessary.”
During the meeting the mayor defended the report’s findings and told a concerned resident that “our council does not agree with your conclusions.”
Rather than listening to the concerns raised by residents, the mayor appeared to defend the report’s findings. The mayor also stated “we’re unanimous that we think that this is a really good idea.”
There is evidence that council made up it’s mind about the direction they planned to go long before the consultants report was submitted.
For example, the letter dated June 7, 2019 from Mayor Dingwall to Assistant Commissioner Stephen Thatcher asks for approval in principle by both the RCMP and the province.
The staff report dated Jan. 23, 2020 states: “direct staff to seek a council motion in February/March 2020 to confirm council’s desire to create an independent RCMP detachment.”
In the article the mayor stated: “They trust in us that we’re doing the right thing, that we presented a full report online, our website, and they’re not concerned. Otherwise, they would have come to that meeting.”
This is a leap.
People have busy lives. Just because they cannot attend a meeting does not mean they trust what is happening and they are not concerned.
To be honest, I find this comment quite disrespectful by an elected official as it is very presumptuous and misleading.
To truly respect public consultation it is important to keep an open mind and not have a predetermined outcome prior to hearing from the public.
To hear that there is unanimous agreement on the direction council plans to follow before residents submit their comments should be very concerning to all residents who believe that it is important for elected officials to listen to those they serve.
This is especially true for a council who prides itself on saying they value residents opinions and they want them to be heard.
It is one thing to have a meeting where the public can ask questions and share their comments, but it’s another thing to actually listen and hear what people say and genuinely take it into consideration prior to making significant decisions that will affect people’s lives.
Be real. Be genuine. Respect.
Brian Anderson, Pitt Meadows
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