BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Tough talk

Taking over Vernon’s mayor’s chair hasn’t kept Akbal Mund from ruffling feathers.

Taking over Vernon’s mayor’s chair hasn’t kept Akbal Mund from ruffling feathers.

While some politicians go to great lengths to speak cautiously and avoid controversy, Mund continues to call it as he sees it just as he did as a businessperson.

During a recent interview, Mund touched on council’s actions and some of the decisions made, but he veered the conversation towards what he considers is the public’s willingness to simply wait to be handed information instead of being proactive and making themselves aware on a variety of topics.

“People need to be better educated about something rather than wait for someone to educate them,” he said.

As an example, he selected one of his favourite topics, the perceived shortage of parking downtown.

“Downtown isn’t just 30th Avenue,” said Mund, who singled out those motorists who expect to park right in front of their destination instead of parking a few blocks away and walking.

“Come and see me and I will find you a parking space. They exist.”

There will be some residents, who after circling main street for the third time, will curse Mund’s comments, and as someone who has tried to park downtown, I know the option of finding a spot even a few blocks away can prove challenging.

Given Mund’s willingness to find parking spaces for people, someone should take him up on the offer and see how successful he is. To add to the experience, bring along a few heavy parcels and a child or two in tow.

But Mund didn’t stop there.

He turned up the heat when it came to the lack of Canada Day fireworks in 2015 because there wasn’t a volunteer committee to oversee planning. A similar situation appears to be evolving this year.

“We had hundreds of people complain about no fireworks but we only had three sign up (for a new organizing committee). Where are the others?” said Mund.

“They complain but they do nothing to fix it. They are blaming the city. Don’t blame the city, do something about it.”

Obviously there are some residents who already do their part behind the scenes for the community and non-profit activities, but there are others who are willing to just sit on their hands and reap the benefits of hard work by others.

The reality is that Canada Day fireworks have never been organized by city council and staff. The task of bringing the event together was in the hands of local residents, but after many years of service, they retired. Nobody can fault them for that. Volunteering should not become a forever job.

But, unfortunately, no one stepped up to the plate to take on organizing for 2015, and the city’s call for volunteers for 2016 has been largely ignored. For those residents who wrapped themselves in the Canadian flag and protested the loudest about no fireworks, why haven’t they got involved and tried to make a difference? The city, or any level of government, is not the be all and end all. There are some things the community should truly embrace.

It will be interesting to see if Mund’s tough talk motivates anyone to organize fireworks or if they will just brush him aside.

But one thing for sure, don’t expect Mund to be quiet during the new year.