Letter: Community Conversations – are they really?

We as members of the village of Valemount were invited to a night of Community Conversation on June 26th, 7 p.m.. Many of us came hopeful to have a Conversation with the village as there has been many questions that required answers and clarification.

Upon arrival we were told this had to be a fast Conversation, one hour to be precise,
as there was a funeral the next day. We were given an agenda of how the Conversation would go.

The Village proceeded to tell us what they have been doing and or hope to be doing or associated with on our behalf in the future. This took approx 40 minutes of that precious hour. I remember sitting there thinking, I have heard all of this before, so much of these topics were irrelevant to this very moment, and could have been offered in a handout, or could and may have been already put into the newspapers, and is available on the web currently. One councilor even tried to shorten his topic to make way for our conversations, while others seemed to purposely drag theirs out. I looked across the audience and people were actually dozing off!

We were then instructed break into groups by numbers (which were) on the bottom of your agendas and continue the Conversation. At this time, some frustrated community members left. I on the other hand being hopeful went to my group dutifully. In our group we were to have the Conversation about what had just been talked about for the past 40 minutes. At this point I realized that the Village did not want our heartfelt inquiries or dialogue.

Quickly now we had to come up with three main questions, which was very awkward with groups of 10 – 15 people. A group leader was instructed to quickly read and sum up the three questions.
Someone inquired when we would have the responses to our questions and July was stated. We were thanked for coming for our input. I was home by 8:10.

At home, I thought,” what just happened?” Besides being truly maneuvered through a Village whirlwind scripted Conversation, I had the sense that we had just encountered another Village Council Meeting, except this time, they are promising answers to our posed questions, mostly on their topics.

I Googled the definition a “Conversation.” It is an informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.
Some synonyms are: discussion, talk, chat, heart to heart, exchange and dialogue.

That Conversation was NOT a Conversation, which causes me to ponder, “does you the Village of Valemount really want to have a Conversation with us or is it the “appearance of a Conversation” with us that they want?” A wise person once said, “Truth does not fear examination, nor is “truth” politically correct.”

I am feeling manipulated and becoming disillusioned and then I had a thought how would it be if, the people of the community of Valemount have our own “Community Conversation” and maybe invite the Mayor, Councilors and CAO?

Bonnie Marklund
Valemount, BC

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