I recently attended a two-day local government leadership forum in the company of 25 mayors and regional district chairs from around the province. At that forum, an observation was made that with the arrival of 2018, “silly season” has officially commenced throughout B.C., the period leading up to the local government election scheduled for Oct. 20 of this year. The phrase “silly season” is used widely in the political realm, and usually refers to a time when undeliverable promises and frivolous accusations are the order of the day leading up to election time.
One of the most common “commitments” heard during silly season is the promise of reduced taxes, usually followed by intentions to reduce staff and eliminate supposed spending waste. While no one likes to pay taxes, and the idea of cutting taxes can have undeniable appeal, a demonstrated understanding of the many complexities surrounding the issue is required: existing service levels, infrastructure requirements, community vision, costs of living increases for services and materials, and much, much more.
When you hear undeliverable promises and frivolous accusations on the street and in the coffee shops, challenge yourself to be open and inquisitive. Ask questions to ascertain an individual’s level of understanding about the important issues that matter to you and your community as a whole.
Asking questions is a good thing! That’s why our current council decided to ask the community in the recent referendum if it wanted to borrow up to $6.1 million for a 50-year fire hall and the answer was no. Now, as a community, we need to decide next steps based on facts and professional expertise — and now is when leadership is put to the test.
I am now in my 10th year serving as your mayor and I was elected to provide leadership for our community, along with six other members of council. A key part of that leadership role is asking the community what it wants and making leadership decisions that consider this important input. A referendum was a democratic process of asking the community a question about borrowing funds. Somehow, the fallout from asking this question has resulted in a smear campaign against council and staff by a handful of people. I believe our community is better than that!
I implore our citizenry to come together to face common challenges respectfully. We need to remember that the discussion about ways to meet the needs of our firefighters, our fire department and our community is far from over. Through it all, we don’t want to lose sight of what an amazing place Creston is!
Moving forward, let’s celebrate who we are as a community. Let’s celebrate what we’ve achieved as a community. Let’s dust ourselves off and develop solution-oriented approaches to the challenges that face us.
A great community attitude that resonates through our streets, storefronts, neighbourhoods and the media is one the best economic development tools we can foster. And our attitude should reflect our successes. In the last nine years alone, our valley has received over $14 million in grants. Take a stroll through downtown and you can feel the vibrancy and potential. Scan through our recently completed Official Community Plan and consider the inspired vision our community has declared for itself. We have a lot of great things going on and I believe that positive forward motion will continue throughout the coming new year. Together, let’s be the best we can be.
Wishing all of our readers a healthy, happy and prosperous 2018!
This is my 93rd article, originally published in the February 2018 edition of I Love Creston.