Here we are having just completed the first week of 2013 and it is already looking like this will certainly be a year to remember. I can't think of any municipality that is as politically charged as this one is right now. Three municipal councillors are looking to provincial politics and the TFN is about to hold another election.
It's not like we have a shortage of issues to address in South Delta. After years of protest, it would appear the South Fraser Perimeter Road will be completed this year.
The behemoth that is Port Metro Vancouver will be tough to wrestle with when it comes to Terminal 2 expansion, and I suspect that just as was the case with the third berth at Deltaport, the British Columbian and Canadian economies will win the day at the expense of farmland and habitat.
I am hoping the Southlands development application continues and eventually makes it way through our new council and sees Metro Vancouver approval.
I support the plan (the original more so than the new incarnation) and I have for several years as most of you know. My reasons are on the public record as are many other supporters and opponents. I like the idea of a community built around horticulture.
There are many that think polls, letters, surveys and petitions are the only way to influence decision makers in government. Imagine if this was actually the case for making important decisions. Nothing would ever get done.
Politicians have an obligation to weigh all aspects of any voting decision brought before them and elected officials that think they can justify casting a vote based on volumes of yes or no votes in a petition aren't best representing their constituents.
There have been several examples of "advocacy polling" in relation to the Southlands over the past few years. This is where polls, petitions and surveys are used by special interest groups to create the sense there is strong community support for a particular stance. Interesting interpretations of numbers and non-resident petition signers all tend to contribute to the white noise of dump truck trips, perceived traffic woes, bird habitat concerns and, of course, food security.
The Delta Chamber of Commerce recently showed support of the Southlands development in a sample of its membership. Of those who responded to the survey, 65 per cent were in favour. A recent letter writer to this paper was able to use some creative math to dispel this number and instead claim that only 16 per cent showed support.
Advocacy math at its finest.
In the latest incarnation of the Save the Southlands online petition, there are some interesting comments indeed.
From a resident of Sechelt: " You can't eat asphalt. No amount of jobs or economic benefits will matter when the food, planet, people are poisoned and dying."
From Richmond: "Save the Southlands it is beautiful and precious."
From West Vancouver: "Save the Southlands! Land? Wildlife? Farming? far better uses than more houses!! So little open land / space we need to save what's left."
There are emotions in these statements and that is good. What council has to do is look towards our future regional health and avoid the advocacy numbers game.