Opinion

Give West Fernie residents a say

Regarding the West Fernie servicing and restructure project and the petition method of having the West Fernie waterworks district residents decide on whether or not to accept the proposal worked out by the province, the City of Fernie and the RDEK. In improvement districts voting is restricted to property owners and, as in other voting, to Canadian citizens and B.C. residents. In the petition method described by the three governments the property owner need not be a Canadian citizen nor a B.C. resident. Normal voting requires a secret ballot as in a referendum. This petition method requires the identity of every voter to be a part of the ballot in that the form is mailed to each resident’s home and if it is returned it’s a yes, if it’s not returned it’s a no. Furthermore, with a secret ballot a husband and wife can vote differently with no conflict. This petition method requires they vote the same.

However, the worst accomplishment of this so called Petition for Service is that it denies the voters the anonymity of a secret ballot which is an integral part of the democratic process and protects the voter from intimidation before a vote and from retaliation after a vote beside being an infringement on your right to privacy.

Keep in mind that Bill Bennett is a prominent member of the provincial government that wrote the legislation creating this petition method of voting on an issue, and as they say “it gets things done.” And please note the HST petition was to have a referendum with a secret ballot.

On another lack of democracy issue, when the B.C. liberals extended Fernie’s boundaries so the five storey high Silver Rock condos could be built, West Fernie residents had no say in the matter. It was in the City and only City residents, such as those in Ridgemont had a right under provincial legislation to object. The West Fernie residents across McLeod Avenue from Silver Rock who had the sun blocked out from October to March had no legislated process to object. Obviously Bill Bennett was no more concerned for those residents than the Mayor and council of Fernie were. Later, when some condo owners complained about what the McLeod Avenue rural residents had been doing for decades, the Elk Valley mayors who rule the RDEK sent out the bylaw enforcement officer to get things done. The condo owners turned up the stereo and partied.

It has been said that the price of democracy is eternal vigilance, but I am not so sure that is enough.

 

Peter Ross

Creston

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