As we creep up on the one-year anniversary of the start of the debate on the future of the Pender Harbour landfill, the level of discord in the Area A community is getting pretty tough to watch.
The Pender Harbour.org message board has some pretty vitriolic comments about people based on whether they are pro-expansion or pro-transfer station. I hear comments about neighbours who won't speak to each other anymore, people who feel uncomfortable doing their shopping in Madeira Park.
The community's disagreement is reviving old talks of Pender Harbour incorporation as well.
I understand disagreeing with a decision of government and I get feeling pride in your hometown, but what I don't see is why a regional decision on something in regional jurisdiction is causing such a rift. The debate no longer seems to be about cost or environmental imperatives and is now about Pender Harbour sovereignty.
But Pender Harbourite or Langdalian, pro-transfer station or pro-expansion, we all rely on the same ferry to bring us food and, more importantly, wine. We share the same fret that a gentle breeze is going to knock our power out for a day or more. The point is this: we've got way more in common than we do different. And we have too many regional problems that need solutions to spending our time infighting and dividing communities.
It's fine to make an argument that Area A doesn't get as much in terms of public services and infrastructure as the rest of the Coast, but looking back at the last few years, Area A has done quite well with projects completed or approved. Pender Harbour's new sports field is the envy of the Sunshine Coast, state-of-the-art water treatment facilities are on their way, Egmont had its fire hall open last summer and the Pender Harbour Aquatic Centre is looking awesome ahead of its grand re-opening next week. Area A director Eric Graham continues the struggle, started by then director John Rees, to get the Area A transit bus on the road. Work is also set to begin on the Suncoaster Trail in Egmont, which will be a huge tourism draw to the area, and, now work is beginning on designing a resource recovery facility for Area A. All of these projects were made possible, at least in part, by having the support of an entire regional district and the weight that carries when it comes to obtaining federal or provincial grants, securing partnerships and getting approvals.
It reminds me a little bit of that scene from Monty Python's satire Life of Brian with the Hebrew revolutionaries bemoaning the Roman occupation.
"Yes, Yes, but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?"
Pender Harbour is a gorgeous little community, but some seem to think it's a gorgeous little nation, not part of something larger.
Between our three local governments, Sechelt Indian Government District, School District No. 46, a provincial MLA and a federal MP, we have 31 people elected or otherwise representing people of the Sunshine Coast. If you include the Islands Trust, that number goes up to 57.
For a jurisdiction of just under 30,000 it's not hard to see why we sometimes feel a little fractured as a community. And it's sad especially when provincialism and territorialism are getting in the way of solving regional problems.
Whether the issue is the location of a landfill, recreation programming or the rising costs of ferry fares, we gain nothing by carving up the Coast and putting up walls around what we think should be "ours, not theirs."