Sooke, like any other town in B.C., Canada and the world is home to a lot of strong opinions. And that’s fine. If we wouldn’t have opinion, we’d be a faceless society of drones.
Trouble in Sooke is, much of that opinion is targeted towards council and the District of Sooke. And in fairness, rightfully so. The combined frustration in regards to woeful infrastructure, poor service and broken promises will need to eventually spill out somewhere, which is usually all over social media.
That’s fine, only, it’s in the wrong place.
Last week, council held a public comment session just before it switched over to its closed-doors portion of the meeting. No one showed up. The mayor held a town meeting last fall too, but only 20 or 30 people showed up. In a growing municipality of 13,000, it just doesn’t add up. Flip over to social media caverns such as Sooke Social and you’ll see every commentary of varying intelligence and severity spilling haphazardly from people’s fingers.
No doubt in mind, debate is great. Good or bad, it shows all sides of the story, albeit in form of a jumbled mess. But think about it. Wouldn’t it be better if we all did it face to face? If you’re frustrated with your road flooding, health-care services from the 1870s, or you’re disgruntled with council’s decisions, wouldn’t it be better to tell it to them directly? It’s what public hearings and town meetings are for.
“Put your money where your mouth is,” so they say, just as we, the citizens, tell our government officials, but maybe we should be telling ourselves that too. Moaning on Facebook and spitting at random strangers on the Internet won’t build a new road, improve transit or get another doctor here.
Facing our elected officials in person can. They have a responsibility to us, the public, to listen and do what is neccessary for the community. In turn, we have a responsibility to ourselves to ensure our voice is heard in the right forum to the right people, people who can actually make a difference, regardless how small.
A no-show council meeting isn’t the end of the world, but the moment it becomes the norm, that’s when we forfeit our right to complain about what the powers that be are and aren’t doing.