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As the Silverback turns

No, it's not the title of a bad soap opera or an even worse made for TV movie, but I find the title kind of fitting when thinking about the debate over the Silverback development in Sandy Hook.

No, it's not the title of a bad soap opera or an even worse made for TV movie, but I find the title kind of fitting when thinking about the debate over the Silverback development in Sandy Hook.

At the April 2 meeting of Sechelt council, the proposed 1,600 unit, 162-hectare residential and resort development was thought to be dead in the water after council voted four to three against a motion to adopt a new official community plan (OCP) amendment.

But on Wednesday, May 7, Mayor Cam Reid hopes to resurrect the plan by exercising his authority in the Community Charter.

Under Section 131 of the charter, a mayor or two councillors in any municipality in the province can bring back a bylaw within 30 days of its defeat.

It's an interesting situation. Many residents have voiced their displeasure with the proposed development. At the most recent public hearing prior to the April 2 decision, almost every person who spoke was against the plan. Since then, our newsroom has been flooded with letters, both for and against council's decision to vote against the OCP amendment. Some letter writers this week have been critical of council and specifically Mayor Reid for the decision to try to bring this back for another vote. But the mayor is not breaking any rules. It's in the charter and he has the right to do this. Remember, though, that council has to vote in favour of this, so that means that one of the four councillors who voted against on April 2 (Darren Inkster, Warren Allan, Keith Thirkell or Mike Shanks) would have to change their minds to side with Reid and councillors Barry Poole and Ed Steeves. By no means is this a slam dunk.

What's sad in this up and down saga is the fact that it's come down to this - residents fighting against one another, name calling and talking down to the mayor and councillors in letters to the paper.

But a voice of reason has emerged in this tragic comedy in the form of a letter from Sandy Hook resident Sue Jackel (published on page A11).

Jackel sums up the situation pretty well when she says the process has locked us into a single win/lose decision at Wednesday's meeting and that it's not fair to the councillors nor the residents of Sechelt.

I couldn't agree more, Sue. Council has put themselves in a terrible position, and in the eyes of the public, they can't do right by this decision.

She suggests an open dialogue involving all stakeholders - the District, the developer and residents of Sechelt -preferably in the context of the vision plan. There has been considerable discussion, many public meetings and two public hearings already, but we're still nowhere closer to achieving what is needed - a development that we can all be proud of, a development that meets the needs of all residents of Sechelt and helps the District achieve its goal of getting much-needed financing for a new sewer treatment facility.

It's all fine and dandy to say we don't want Silverback, and to heck with any development, but in this day and age and given the rapid growth of the Sunshine Coast, this type of thinking just doesn't cut it. If you're a taxpayer in the District of Sechelt, are you prepared to see your taxes go through the roof to pay for sewer services and other projects in the community? That's the prospect you will be facing if some common ground isn't found with Silverback or any of the other proposed developments still on the District's books.

I agree with Sue's suggestion and would suggest that council go this way. Right now it appears to be the most logical way of sorting out this mess.

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