- Our Town
How much support did neighbourhood plan rejection have?
To the editor:
This is a supplement to my comments in last week’s edition regarding John Sbragia’s letter in which he argues that the previous council (2008-2011) had no choice but to reject the CRC Neighbourhood Plan (July 26).
Part of his argument was the assertion that the “public consultation process” showed that a “majority of islanders” supported council’s decision. I assume that, by “islanders,” Mr. Sbragia meant the Bowen electorate. This comprised about 2,300 people in the last local election, so that a majority would have to be in excess of about 1150.
Mr. Sbragia provides no evidence that the level of support for the council’s decision was in fact of this magnitude. Perhaps he was drawing inferences from the events that occurred shortly before the council’s decision: the letter writing campaign, the 650-plus petition, and the single public meeting held by the municipality regarding the plan; if so, I would suggest that people who participate in letter-writing campaigns, sign petitions, and attend public meetings seldom constitute anything like a representative sample of their community.
There’s a further aspect to this. Even if at that time a majority of electors supported the council decision, how many of them did so believing that there would be a third option superior to both the neighbourhood plan and the 10-acre subdivision? I expect that much (most?) of the opposition to the plan would have disappeared if council had done what it should have done: informed the public that there was a very good chance that there would not be a third option and that, accordingly, the choice was really only between the plan and the 10-acre lots.
There is a sad little irony here. Whatever chance there was for a third option, it was destroyed by the council’s brusque, tactless rejection of the neighbourhood plan—a proposal that, at the request of the preceding council (2005-08), had been developed by the CRC owners at a cost of some $2.5 million and a delay of at least two years; indeed, that council had already given provisional approval to the plan in first reading.