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Lots of questions and promises

McThoughts by John McPhee

There’s an oft heard line some journalists love to use when confronted with stone-walling politicians and bureaucrats – “the public has a right to know”.

More and more of late, I’m hearing variations of that line from the public themselves with regards to the proposed municipal complex. They’re frustrated with the obvious lack of input and transparency. Officials love to say that the Project Management Team meetings are open to the public, but it’s hard to find where and when they are held. One time the entire council met with the committee, but the media wasn’t invited.

But, their frustration level grows as their complaints are met with yet more promises of consultation and involvement, but no action.

I am hearing a lot of promises of public consultation from council and local officials. I’ve heard them so much, that it’s becoming a broken record. “Oh you’ll be consulted.” “We plan to include the public…” “Don’t you worry…”

The public’s response is ‘when?’

This is a major issue that is very complicated with many different components. It’s a struggle between the status quo and those who see a vision that will serve the municipality for years to come. And it will even take years to achieve.

Some want nothing done and no spending. Some want it all – new soccer fields, a new sporting complex, new administrative centre.

Still others agree to a new administrative centre, but don’t want it moved out of downtown Walkerton.

I think that even if council dropped its plans for ERBP and selected the former Brant Central property, people would be upset at how it’s out of walking distance.

It’s virtually a no-win situation for council. But they’re not helping themselves by seemingly ignoring the public’s concerns and complaints.

Talk is cheap, but this project won’t be, and that’s why the public is concerned.

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