By: Korie Marshall, Editor
I am a little disturbed about how many people in our area seem to think the decisions of the Regional District don’t affect them. If you just don’t care about local government that is one thing. Or if you don’t have the time to pay attention, I get that. But their decisions affect us all. And I think many people in the Robson Valley area agree that it would be good to have the opportunity to watch Regional District meetings either online or on TV.
Even if you live within either the Valemount or the McBride village boundaries, you have a voice on the Regional District Board – it happens to be the Mayors – because we are all part of the Regional District. They vote on things like funding for our rinks, fire protection services, fees at our transfer stations, the maintenance and creation of regional parks and community centres, just to name a few. Whether you live within or outside of a village boundary, each of those things affects you and your community. And a big portion of our taxes are going to the Regional District to spend on those things. Don’t you want to know that they are spending our money fairly?
Yes, this lumbering beast that is government and regulation can lead to a long and seemingly boring board meeting. And I know that a lot of people who attend even Council meetings are often frustrated because all they see is a vote on something, and they don’t hear or see the discussion or the background. Often it’s because that information is in the full agenda. And that is a bunch of paper, and a waste of it, especially if someone is not going to read the agenda beforehand. Council doesn’t read the agenda at the meetings. They are supposed to have read it and thought about their questions before coming to the meeting. People who want to see what local councils are doing really need to do that as well.
And yes, the agendas are often long and boring. You might think that much of it doesn’t apply to you – until you have a problem, or you want something from Council. And that is just for our little communities. No doubt the Regional District’s agendas are even longer, and much of them deal specifically with other areas of the district.
But how would you know if the Board is treating each region, each application, each question fairly, if you haven’t seen how they’ve treated other regions, applications and questions?
The Regional District meetings take place three hours away from where I live, and take place in the afternoon. The School Board has a regular schedule of bringing a meeting to a rural area every so often, but I haven’t heard of the Regional District Board doing that. So I’ve never been to a Board meeting. That’s one reason I’d like to see them broadcasted.
Ken Starchuck, who was our Area H representative for nine years made the point to me that even Prince George media doesn’t record the Board meetings because most of what happens doesn’t affect people in Prince George. If that is really the case, I could ask why Prince George has four representatives on the Board, but I get his point – it seems boring. Maybe not news worthy. Certainly not exciting. However Prince George media can actually attend the Board meetings if they want to, they are right there. It’s different for us.
And the thing about watching council or board meetings – you don’t do it because they are entertaining. You do it because they are important; because you are interested in what is going on in your community. If they were broadcasted, especially on something like YouTube the way Valemount and McBride meetings are, you can skip through the boring parts if you want. Maybe you have read the agenda, and you want to know what else was discussed when that topic came up – you can zip right to it. You don’t have to wait for the minutes (even more boring than the meeting!) to be approved at the next meeting. You don’t have to bug staff to answer questions instead of doing their other important work.
Fourteen people are making very important decisions for our Regional District. Three of them are representing the Robson Valley – they are speaking for us at that table, and I’d like to know what they are saying.