I am all for citizens rallying together in order to voice concerns to government, but you've got to knock on the right door.
A small group of residents is concerned about a proposal to build a hydroelectric project on the military base in Meaford, and they attended council to share their concerns and to ask why Meaford would consider a proposal that those residents fear will bring a host of problems to the municipality. The trouble is, they were knocking on the wrong door.
Council and staff aren't being coy when they say that this proposal has nothing to do with council – it really doesn't. This is a proposal being made by a private corporation to our Department of National Defence. The municipality can certainly submit their comments and concerns as part of the established commenting process, but that is really all that Meaford can do at this stage, and those with concerns should be sharing them through the commenting process.
You wouldn't march into the grocery store to voice outrage over a shoddy brake job, and you wouldn't head to the hardware store to complain about a crappy haircut, so why would people head for the council chamber to complain about a proposal that has absolutely zero to do with the municipality? Why not take that outrage to your local MP? And hey, we're in a federal election year, you could also raise hell with the candidates from each party, but to insist that it is council that should do something is just wrong in this instance.
Like members of council, I've had some email in recent days, and every single email I have received for some reason has laid the responsibility for this proposal at the feet of council, and for some it seems that no matter how many times I explain that this is one issue that has nothing to do with council, and that council can in all reality do nothing about even if they agreed with the most vocal in the community, they still insist that council can and should do something to put a stop to this proposal.
If you do have strong feelings about this proposal, I encourage you to participate in the process as laid out by the federal government, and submit your opinions, because our little small town council of seven has nothing in the toolbox that could deal with this proposal that involves our Department of National Defence and a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Call me crazy, but I have a certain amount of trust in our processes. Some of the most concerned residents I've heard from have expressed concern for the fish in the bay; well, I'm sure the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will weigh in heavily. Some have expressed concern about potential environmental impacts; well, we have a ministry for that too.
I have seen several people up in arms over this proposal, yet we are in the very earliest of stages, and this is why we have a public commenting process, so you can submit your opinions and concerns to the feds, and that input will be pooled with all of the other input for consideration. But to be hounding a local council over a federal government issue seems like wasted time to me.
Of course people are right to be concerned, and to want more information, and some will want to share their concerns, and they should, but it is important to recognize the appropriate entities to direct those concerns.
I fully understand, appreciate, and respect the passion of those who engage in matters such as this, and I value their willingness to go to bat for the community when the need arises, but sometimes people come out of the corner swinging before they even really know who their opponent is – we live in a knee-jerk, outrage culture where many seem to be anxiously awaiting something to be outraged about, and sometimes there are indeed issues or circumstances which call for outrage, but in reality they are few and far between.
Also, let's not assume that the seven people we have elected to represent us would be opposed to this proposal. Perhaps some of them are, like me, intrigued but want to learn more before making any sort of definitive judgement. Perhaps some of them, like me, see some merit in what little we know at this point.
To those who regularly oppose most anything that is ever suggested, please don't automatically assume that the rest of us agree with you. The tone used by many who oppose such proposals suggests that should you happen to disagree with them, you must be a moron, or worse.
Some might be comfortable with opposing something about which they know very little; we all have our own way of approaching things. But I am not comfortable in making uneducated, knee-jerk judgments about any issue, so I prefer to stay calm and learn more.
Unlike many of our resident 'experts', I don't pretend to know everything about this proposal and whether it could result in any negative impact on this community.
So what is my opinion on the proposal? Frankly, it is too early to really say. Unlike some who have already made up their minds in spite of the current lack of information, I prefer to wait until I learn more.
Using water to generate electricity is a time-tested, well-accepted method – in Canada we do call our 'electricity' bills 'hydro bills' for a reason.
We have processes in place designed to protect the best interests of the community and country at large – let's allow those processes to do what they are designed to do.