All governments have a responsibility to support each other in the collective effort to build welcoming, diverse and inclusive communities.
Communications is critically important. Bad communications that lacks information can often turn a difficult situation into an impossible one.
I address this in this statement.
I learned in my time at the Central Saanich council table that the important work of local government is to create and maintain safe and secure neighbourhoods. As dry as comprehensive zoning bylaws and official community plans are, they are in agreement that, if followed, enable individuals to peacefully live collectively. Building form, heights, and siting are some of the policy measures that provide certainty that applies to all people that live in a neighbourhood.
Communities are not just all about built form. They’re also defined by the people who live in them. Safe, secure, supportive, and compassionate communities are a result of leadership that clearly articulates expectations and delivers fair, equitable and consistent application of the rules. When communication lacks or breaks down or when leaders act with a heavy hand, the trust between neighbours, the community and their decision-makers is eroded.
Just and correct decisions are undermined when a neighbourhood’s valid questions go unanswered. When there is a lack of information, the difficult job of governing a community is increased. Even more troublesome is that people will inevitably fill in the blanks with their own information, and the challenging communications are made unnecessarily more arduous.
In Central Saanich, there is an unfortunate situation that has been unfolding over the last month with the Prosser Road supported-housing project. Deep down, I believe we all know that we have a role in supporting our friends and relatives who are in desperate need. I believe that diverse and inclusive and welcoming communities are more vibrant and interesting.
Just as I ask my friends and neighbours to keep their minds and hearts open to support the disadvantaged in our society, I ask my colleagues in this chamber to show compassion in their actions for the people and neighbourhoods their decisions are impacting. This means we need to improve communication and show the respect for people, neighbourhoods and communities that they deserve.