This past week, The Free Press has received calls regarding the new bike racks the city has installed on 2nd Avenue in Fernie. Having heard mostly negative comments about the lack of parking for the disabled because of the patios and now the bike racks I decided to go downtown and talk to random people on the street to see if there was any positive feedback. Of course there was, it’s just that nobody calls the newspaper when they like something that council has implemented, although I would encourage people to do so.
I also visited Facebook. Mayor Mary Giuliano’s post was followed by mostly positive comments about how it is good of council to encourage less traffic downtown by allowing bikers the freedom to park their bikes in a designated, safe, secure spot. Mayor Giuliano also pointed out that the city has approved five new handicapped parking stalls on 2nd Avenue. It is clear that, right or wrong, there was much thought put into this decision by council.
In my search for opinions I also visited the Facebook page, Fernie….the good….the bad….changes….and suggestion. There were three different posts regarding this topic, all with approximately 25-35 comments each, which by and large were negative. There were some good suggestions that could have contributed to the process, but mostly a lot of comments about how the city spends our tax dollars frivolously and how council caters to tourists and forgets about the locals.
It’s easy to complain after the money has been spent and the bike racks are in place, but where was everyone when council was pouring over this decision? That is the time to act. We vote council in to represent us but that doesn’t negate the need for the community to take part in the decision of how our tax dollars are spent.
I believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion but if you really want things to change you need to have a say in the process leading up to these decisions. I have heard council time and again ask the citizens of Fernie to take part in their surveys, to attend community meetings, to simply engage with council, and yet it is the same few faces that you see at the meetings, sitting on committees and just generally showing an interest in how council operates.
Instead of complaining after the fact, take the first step and attend a council meeting where your opinion can make a difference.