What disappointing conduct by some candidates in the City of North Van election campaign. We’ve watched mudslinging, innuendoes, outright falsehoods, exaggerations, and disparaging comments. One has to wonder why so much nasty stuff is being brought up – unless perhaps it could be because there’s a lot of money at stake.
Is this what happens when there are two distinct points of view? One beholden to developers, one a loosely formed slate of independents. Are the stakes that high that this conduct is condoned by voters?
In many ways the City of North Vancouver serves as a model of what might happen to other municipalities as resources are reduced and tempers frayed. With no undeveloped land, the City faces a choice between quality of life for those who already live in the city versus the possibility of housing more people at the expense of older residents, the already aging and overtaxed infrastructure and the environment itself. Positions are polarized and councilors have been known to heap insults on both the public and each other. Civility has been lost in action.
As voters we have to ask how candidates will balance the needs of different interest groups. Pitting different groups against each other is similarly unacceptable. Young and old; renters and owners; differing cultures all live in our communities and should have a place and a say without ousting each other.
The importance of the Official Community Plan cannot be overstressed. If candidates do not agree to abide by the broad terms set out in the OCP, voters have no assurance that there will be anything but chaos and rancour. No matter how worthy, the ends do not justify the means. Abandoning the common ground of the OCP for the noble end of affordable housing ultimately does not work and leaves citizens with no ground on which to stand in trying to play a role in shaping the future of their community. It is crucial that candidates express their view of the necessity to abide by the OCP and their view of where they want to take the municipality over the next ten years. As voters we have a right to know:
What candidates think of the OCP;
How they see the future of the municipality;
How they will accommodate public input into city hall;
How they expect politicians to behave toward each other as well as the public.
Now is the chance for voters to affect the way their community will be governed over the next four years. If we don’t take this opportunity, whom can we blame but ourselves?