n a recent letter, “Protect public interest,” Sooke News Mirror, May 4, 2011, Heather Phillips raises a number of points regarding Ender Ilkay’s proposed plans for a rural recreational project. Let us take them one at a time.
The Jordan River Community Association “sees no benefit” to them in the project. That is their view, however, others feel otherwise.
The Shirley Volunteer Fire Department raises concerns which need to be weighed in the light of expert independent advice that risks will be mitigated by having a fire suppression system in every structure.
The Ministry of Environment will not allow access to Bear Creek. This is to protect possible First Nation’s heritage sites. This is not, I think, a matter for public debate but something for archaeologists and First Nations to sort out.
An “expert” from Royal Roads has said this is “inappropriate.” This is not new: his views have been known for some time. I would trust the appraisal of an experienced person in tourism development over an academic every day. And as the great political scientist Groucho Marks almost remarked: “Here are my experts. If you don’t like them, I have others.”
The student lawyers at UVic have declared the plan to be contrary to the Growth Management Strategy. The legal counsel employed by the CRD say otherwise. As do the CRD Senior Staff and Planners. Who are you going to believe, the amateurs or the professionals?
H. Phillips asserts that “most members of the public” oppose this development and asks “how are these decision makers accountable”? Here we come to a real issue.
We live in a representative democracy. We elect people to make decisions on our behalf based on their character, their knowledge and their track record. They may then make decisions which offend us but they are elected to act based on their information and judgement. To change their decisions to respond to opinion polls or crowds with bull horns would be a clear dereliction of their duty and oath of office. In this day of twitter mobs and facebook swarms we need to remind ourselves of this basic fact of life.
There will never be unanimity on this issue but we do have an established decision process based on established law and we should follow it.