When elected officials bend to the will of the people and vote accordingly on important community issues, it is a rare and beautiful thing. We enjoyed such a momentous event three days ago, when the five-person city council in Gibsons, BC voted unanimously in favour of leaving the Gospel Rock waterfront as undeveloped greenspace. Wow. And council will not consider related issues to the proposed Gospel Rock development, such as density, access, and its impact on the town’s aquifer, for another five years.
What a surprise! This truly unexpected decision brought shocked looks from councillors Lee Ann Johnson and Dan Bouman and tears from Mayor Wayne Rowe and councillor Charlene SanJenko. I can’t interpret councillor Gerry Tretick’s expression because I wasn’t there. I was one of the cynics who had assumed that the full Gospel Rock development was a done deal and wanted to avoid seeing that confirmed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Boy, am I glad that I was wrong. This vote renews my faith in the ability of a small group of committed people to change the minds of decision-makers and create positive change. Some people in our community have been fighting to protect Gospel Rock for decades. We all choose our level of involvement in any issue, and for some, it’s enough to attend meetings, perhaps write the occasional letter to the editor, or speak at a public hearing. That’s all worthy activism. But it always takes people in the trenches with a vision and ideals, who persevere over months and years to plan strategy and meetings, raise funds, send emails, lick envelopes, and keep the message rolling on, and most important of all—to never give up—to make the ultimate difference. That includes both individuals and groups like Friends of Gospel Rock.
Last night, at a victory party at a Gower Point Road home, many people from those trenches and ones who spoke out at last week’s public hearing gathered to celebrate this week’s decision. (At that hearing, only three people from a speaker’s list of about 50, spoke in favour of the bylaw amendment to incorporate the Gospel Rock Neighbourhood Plan into Gibsons’ Official Community Plan bylaw 985, 2005. For more details on that, see my post “Preservationists dominate public hearing for bylaw amendment.”)
Having people from the community of all ages speak out did, indeed, make a difference. Yahoo! This latest decision has given renewed fire to those who want to raise funds to create the Gospel Rock area as a park. Sure, this latest waterfront development issue could be a mere bargaining chip in a larger process, and decisions made to woo voters is always at play, but that doesn’t matter. You will always find people who care and ultimately vote from their heart, even at unexpected times and places. A community rallied, made its views known, and the people’s representatives heard. That’s sweet success.
October 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm Comment (1)