Was a proper democratic process followed on Tuesday night? It's a question that is debatable depending on what side of the fence or, in this case, the rock, that you stand on.
At their Oct. 21 meeting, Gibsons councillors had a discussion regarding which option to proceed on concerning the Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan. Council resolved at that meeting that before proceeding with a decision, a committee-of-the-whole should be held between council and the select committee with a date and time to be announced. Council met this Tuesday morning with their consultant - not with the whole select committee. This angered two councillors in particular, who countered that night at council that proper public process was not being following.
Coincidently, Friends of Gospel Rock placed a paid ad in Coast Reporter Oct. 31 stating that a decision on Gospel Rock would be made, yet the item was not on the original agenda, nor was staff prepared to aid council in their decision process. It's curious how Friends of Gospel Rock knew a decision was coming when some members of staff and council did not.
Council was put on the spot Tuesday by a packed gallery wanting an answer before the election. Two councillors stuck to their guns in saying there were not against the recommended plan but rather against the way the issue was brought forward, the apparent lack of further public consultation and consultation with its select committee, which council by consensus voted to have at its Oct. 21 meeting.
The mayor and two other councillors felt more than enough consultation was done and more would be forthcoming - it was time to make a decision. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - that's why we have elected officials to make these tough decisions. But why the quick rush to judgment? It has taken years to get to this point, with a lot of hard work by Gibsons staff, council and the community. A decision could have been reserved for the next meeting, maybe allowing a chance for the public to review the in-camera notes from the morning meeting between council and the consultant, maybe more time for all of council to reach a consensus on the issue.
Instead, we now have divided council, ill feelings from the community towards some council members and praise for others for standing by their decision to move this plan forward - all within mere days before an election. We're not telling you who to vote for on Nov. 15 - we're just giving you some information to ponder. You be the judge on which side of the rock you want to stand when making a decision on election day.