Apparently some members of Lumby council are starting to get the message about public involvement.
Mayor Kevin Acton is now suggesting that a referendum on a proposed correctional facility is possible although it was just a few days ago that he appeared to be more concerned about an arbitrary government deadline than ensuring a transparent process for residents to have their say.
“We’re getting enough push-back from the community and we’re reconsidering the phone poll issue and looking at a referendum,” he said.
And that makes sense as phone surveys are fine when citing loyalty for a particular political party or product, but not when determining the future of something that could have a dramatic impact on your community — either positive or negative.
No matter which side rose to the top in a poll, there would always be some questions about the process. Did some residents not get called? Was the registry of numbers stacked by a particular group? Were the names of participants truly anonymous or is the village aware of individuals’ opinions?
A referendum is not perfect but at least it is a process that people fully understand and it provides complete anonymity, which is crucial when such an explosive issue is on the ballot.
The provincial government may want to know sooner than later if Lumby is interested in a prison, but it’s not the bureaucrats that will have to live with any implications a facility may bring.
If Victoria is truly interested in not forcing a prison on to a community, it will wait until a proper consultation process has been done.