Learn from the past

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys - Learn from the past

The 10 years after coverage of the 2003 fires that destroyed thousands of hectares of forest throughout the province can be found in most every newspaper, and interviews on the radio and television are ongoing.

Reporters have tried their best to seek out people that experienced the horrific events of a decade ago to allow them to recount not only what happened but how they are doing now.

Most interviewed seemed to say that they wished the fire had never happened, but that they are going forward with life. They are doing their level best to make their lives richer and their communities stronger.

Unfortunately, as it is with any sampling of human memories and emotions, some people are still bitter about what went on and negative about what will be in the future. It seems these are the voices that come to the forefront in any conversation no matter what the conversation is about. They seem to revel in tearing down any sort of enthusiasm that has been built up and degrade those trying to move things forward.

Most of us have attended meetings where these people point out difficulties in a situation and rant that nothing can be done. They have no constructive opinions to give but they demand by their very volume and aggressive tone that they be heard and deemed to be right.

In my opinion this overbearing negative segment of the population are the reason for the decline in public participation and volunteering in some communities. Who wants to come to a town hall meeting to be shouted down and have your ideas made light of?

Unfortunately, what sometimes happens is when the people with good ideas stop coming, the chest thumping, table pounding Neanderthals get to run things.

Months of hard negotiations and complicated work can be ruined in a blink of an eye when the person at the table asking for help tries to dictate how that help will be given and when.

Imagine a scenario of were there has been a major disaster. The local mill has burned and as a result the area’s largest employer is gone. The province has stepped in to try and resolve some major issues. Public and private funds are raised, and a plan is put in place to develop the former mill site into an industrial park. Land is purchased, surveys are done, roads are built and the plan is progressing. Many qualified and knowledgeable people are spending time developing the project. Studies are commissioned on the best way to proceed. The province, the local regional district and local residents are working together to have the project provide an economic driver to the local area.

Then the area we are imagining incorporates. The new local government takes over the direction of the plan. Committees are dissolved, disbanded and generally done away with. The new mayor is going to get things done. More studies are done, money is spent on investigating the water situation and the new mayor meets with the provincial ministers to get what needs to be done and done right now. Demands are made and emails, letters and phone calls are exchanged. The land transfer process is explained many times to the new mayor, but this is not what he wants to hear. The new mayor says promises were made and broken. Delays were made to happen, and the plan is failing all because of the actions of others.

What went wrong with this imagined scenario? One could look at it and say greed and a need to control overpowered good sense. That would explain a lot of things. Table pounding, shouting and chest thumping are never good negotiation tactics. The land transfer and any benefits it brings will never happen if this continues,  but the damage to essential intergovernmental relationships is the real loss.

Now back to reality. Barriere is growing slowly and surely. This happens through solid partnerships with our neighbouring communities and other orders of government, not through finger pointing and negative comments about the past.

We all need to be positive and work together to resolve issues. We can learn from the past and not let it dictate our future.