It is irresponsible for the editor of the Sooke News Mirror to allege that council uses public meetings as window dressing: “In many cases, the decisions have already been made and it seems the public part of the process is just for show.”
No factual evidence was presented. As “evidence” the editorial cites how some money has already been spent in exploring the public amenities identified in the Parks Master Plan. Spending is sometimes required to decide if a project is a good fit for our community. Such spending does not indicate a decision has already been made.
The role of a community newspaper is to support democracy with fair and balanced reporting and reasoned opinion. The Sooke News Mirror undermines this role with inflammatory statements presented as fact – discouraging the very public process it purports to hold dear. If people believe the Sooke News Mirror and decide their ideas and input have no bearing on the public decision-making process, why would they bother to participate?
The editor questions the honesty of council members with this very serious allegation that decisions have already been made. Certainly each council member may go in with some opinion. But in Sooke, council and staff bend over backwards to hear public input, amend plans and go back to the drawing board when necessary.
There is more than one side to any issue. Public debate is healthy and that is what this council is facilitating. Plans are altered according to public input and concerns. That is what I see this council doing, not what the Sooke News Mirror has alleged.