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“Coffee With Council” - District of 100 Mile
Maureen Pinkney and Dave Mingo hosted “Coffee with Council” on July 15. This is to be a regular occurring event. The concept is “an informal place outside of Council meetings for people to talk to elected officials.” More engagement seems good. One curious aspect was, I noticed we had to do the “engaging”, because there was nothing facilitated it ended up being quite unstructured dialogue in a room about literally whatever was in someone’s head.
Topics that came up over coffee included: the state of the school system, housing shortages, Policing, local government, the failing health care system, mental health, professionals lost due to Mandates and the concept of a Village vs a District. The chatter entered entirely around the efficacy of our systems including the limitations of the BC Municipal And Local Government Acts.
Communities in Bloom was discussed at length. This is a contest in BC where the Judges travel around and are shown the nice things in the following categories : Community Appearance, Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation, Tree Management, Landscape and Plant & Floral Display … But I was left wondering what about the "not pretty measures”. Wrongful incarcerations, unwarranted searches & siezure, RCMP murders (like the recent case Chief Willie Sears has spoken loudly about - search WL Tribune), children’s literacy, suicide rates, unresolved missing and murdered indigenous women, homelessness, missing persons, parental alienations, access to emergency medical care or addiction rates. None of the underbelly is measured. Where are the ticky boxes which cause reflection on the systemic failures that need our conscious effort at healing and repair?
While I was there the friendly face of a local Real Estate Agent came in. He had an interesting back story to tell. Formerly a trained and registered Nurse in the health care system he worked in service in the realm of mental health service. After 9 years he faced the difficult decision to leave his health care career behind due to the failures of the institution. A lack of shifts, instability in the work force and transient nature of service were factors leading to his exit. In order to support and prioritize his family he left health care and joined the family business and began selling Real Estate.
The experience at Coffee with Council, spoke volumes to the state of our society. Homes are a commodity and Nurses (ie; people) are expendable … Food wasn’t even ‘on the table’. Flower displays and rolling hills matter more than the homeless and suicidal. Solutions abounded among attendees, and it was made clear the District doesn’t really possess the Governance Framework needed to facilitate functional democracy.
Example : Doctors are not eager to reside here because they want high quality education and amenities for their children, so we have to build temporary housing and bring in Locum Tenens causing further issues. Solution : build an Academy and turn existing resources into amenities (simple solutions like installing docks at public lake accesses). Yet our local governments are incredibly limited by both jurisdiction and budget. It was even stated that they “have to take orders from higher up”, presumably this was referring to the existence of the BC Municipal Act. So the School Board and Interior Health jurisdictions in the Example mean local government can’t effectively do much other than react to these other government bodies. Meanwhile, the narrative is that “we live in a democracy where our officials work for us”. The reality has become this : if the direction comes from “higher up” why do we even bother to elect people? And where exactly is the “top” of this order hierarchy…? The buck never seems to stop in the game of bureaucratic racket ball. But the dupe always stops over on Cameo Radio, stay tuned for the upcoming release of the “Coffee with Council” Episode where you can listen to the fascinating chatter.
So there you have it! For those with eyes to see, ears to hear. I hope you enjoyed this piece. I particularly enjoyed connecting with the people there and swapping stories in Council Chambers. To be clear this article aims not to poke at Maureen or Dave personally! They are just people too, and they DID have the courage to divulge a lot of jarring truth in the session. It was enjoyable, so in true Candian Political tradition let’s use laughter as medicine and have some fun at the expense of political images. We’ve got Dave “the Bingo” Mingo, known for his quick draw with the Facebook Comment Bingo Dabber. And there’s “Maurooned Pinkney”, the lone woman, since way back when Donna was Mayor. Give them a high-five when you see them around town and be grateful they told us how limited our local government is.
It dawned on me after writing, that the Council is now hosting separate sessions, rather than creating a forum at the actual council meetings. Is it preferable that people not attend the regular Council meetings? Why?
Village Voice would love to host a Council Column full of truth serum. One can dream!