In clouds of grey, sometimes there is a silver lining and bright skies prevail. That’s what happened Tuesday night at the Town of Gibsons council chambers.
After months of heated debate, angry letters and correspondence and a very charged up public hearing, council found a way to mend some fences and take a positive step forward in healing the divisive attitudes regarding the Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan.
Council agreed to cut waterfront housing from the plan, designate it as green space and to review the plan further to consider density issues, impacts on the aquifer and traffic concerns — all issues that have been brought up time and time again the past few months and were at the centre of contention at last Thursday night’s public hearing.
And as icing on the cake, the vote was unanimous — with all five members of council passing a motion to amend the plan — something that has not been done very often at any of our council tables as of late, least of all at Gibsons council when it comes to issues around the Gospel Rock plan.
The unanimous vote triggered applause from the packed gallery who came out to witness the vote. Many, we’re sure, came to the meeting expecting to see the vote go another way. In fact, several speakers at last Thursday’s public hearing said as much, even challenging council to prove them wrong. And prove them wrong they did.
Each member of council listened and evaluated what they heard from the more than 60 speakers at the hearing. Most of those presentations were heartfelt and genuine with real legitimate concerns brought forward for council to think about. Armed with all the facts, council put some real thought into what could be done to make a difference, to listen to the community and to get a plan on track that everyone can be proud of and get behind.
While there is still more work to be done, more consultation with the community and another public hearing, Gibsons council has shown some true leadership and vision.
The citizens, by way of their vote in the November 2011 election, elected this council to represent the interests of the community, to do their best for the community, to move the community forward in a progressive and respectful way. For the first time since the election, we can honestly say that those ideals have been achieved and we have a council that has come together, respected the process and truly made a difference.
Now the challenge is to continue to move forward positively and with respect to achieve something even greater — a final adopted plan.
Let’s get to work.