Vernon Morning Star

BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Setting priorities

There’s been a lot of talk about workload among politicians.

At two separate meetings now, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members  have emphasized the number of major issues crowding their agendas and the challenges they are experiencing with actually dealing with them.

“If we can bite these things off into smaller chunks, it would be easier,” said Mike Macnabb, chairperson.

Now there’s no question that circumstances are daunting.

A proposed peace to the parks dispute has been hammered out, and the focus now turns to restructuring the provision of recreation and cultural services.

On top of this, a decision has been made to go back to the drawing board and reduce the scope and costs of a sports complex going before voters April 6.

There has also been a commitment to consider potential locations for a new art gallery and museum and how best to bring those concepts to taxpayers.

Not to be forgotten, there’s an ongoing review into the master water plan, and at a possible price tag of $100 million, discussions about how best to proceed with utility upgrades will be complex.

And for good measure, nothing will happen with any programs or planning unless a 2013 budget is inked.

The problem, apparently, is there isn’t sufficient time during the allotted two-and-a-half hours once a month to sufficiently discuss all of the details and make a decision.

“We have a lot of issues on the table and what’s happened is it comes to a meeting and we’re presented with background information that we have to deal with in a short time,” said director Doug Dirk.

Often these monthly meetings include delegations from community groups, and with the clock ticking, their presentations go into fast-forward.

“We are hampered by time limitations because of other meetings on the same day. For the public, I don’t want to short-change them,” said Macnabb.

Now there should be some sympathy for  our elected officials.

After all, they have agreed to represent the community’s interests when many of us are unwilling to vote, let alone seek public office. What they receive in financial compensation hardly makes up for the amount of time spent at meetings or reading endless piles of paper.

But the reality is that issues are piling up like cord wood partly because of them.

Conditions at the current art gallery and museum have been allowed to deteriorate over the years to the point of crisis. Yes, the possible $8.5 million borrowing for a sports complex needs to be revisited if there is any chance of voter assent, but why didn’t that process occur when the politicians first gave their blessing to the plan?

There’s been no choice but to rip apart the parks, recreation and culture services because some partners have been unwilling to compromise and make changes within the existing structure.

As for water, the need for costly upgrades is nothing new because the Interior Health Authority has been making major demands for years.

Meeting schedules may be revised so GVAC directors can start wading through the backlog and bring some matters to a conclusion.

But for residents who are used to long hours on the job, often with only minimum wage in return, concerns from politicians’ workload, will barely register. Their advice will likely be to put the nose to the grind stone and get ‘er done.

Richard Rolke is the senior reporter for The Morning Star

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