Here’s the deal
As the Canada Winter Games Host Society, including thousands of volunteers, work against the clock to prepare for the Games in February we read stories of those who believe they have not received their due from the event or from those who believe the society does its business in secret.
Every meeting of every committee in this organization is open to the public.
In fact, non-committee members who show up will not only be welcomed, but will likely be asked to help out.
When the host society issues a tender, anyone, including all bidders, will be entitled to know of the results of that tender.
All routine requests for information and requests that do not require a huge amount of volunteer time to satisfy will be answered as quickly and completely as possible.
We do these things because our rules say we should and we created the rules because it was the right thing to do.
Our host society must raise almost half of its operating budget from business donations, ticket and merchandise sales.
To date we have received commitments from businesses amounting to $7.6 million.
These donations or gifts are provided to the Games in return for recognition that the businesses are making a contribution to their community.
When the host society is unable to secure goods or services through a donation, it then acquires them in accordance with the purchasing policy.
This policy says that anything over $20,000 must go to tender.
When it goes to tender there is a local preference clause that benefits local suppliers.
The bid that best meets the needs at the best price, after the local preference calculation is made, wins.
No secret deals.
The host society, including the hundreds of volunteers and staff, takes its duty to the community very seriously, and knows it must act fairly and with integrity.
We are about to host not only thousands of Canada’s best athletes, but the entire country.
Millions of people will be tuning in to see this great Canadian event in action and will also be learning a lot about Whitehorse and the North at the same time.
The thousands of people working the thousands of hours to prepare for the Games know it will influence greatly the legacies left from these Games.
We look forward, therefore, to the best Canada Games ever!
Piers McDonald, president, 2007 Canada Games Host Society, Whitehorse
Councillors must learn respect
I attended Monday night’s city council meeting on the rezoning of the McLean Lake area for work, but I am writing as a private citizen with 20 years experience in participatory land-planning processes.
I was shocked and disheartened by the display put on by a couple of the council members, Doug Graham and Dave Stockdale.
Both of them were aggressive, belligerent, and downright rude to the private citizens making submissions to council.
Despite repeated reminders from mayor Buckway that the meeting was not a time to debate the issues, Stockdale, in particular, repeatedly responded to intervenors by challenging them personally.
Instead of focusing on the issues at hand and seeking clarification or rationale, he would throw questions that seemed tailored to undermine the intervenor, to catch them in some hypocrisy and even to make personal criticism.
The council members also asked questions that seemed irrelevant or disingenuous. For example, Graham asked one intervenor if she was aware of an article and its author when, in fact, she was the author.
The only explanation I can come up with for such questions is:
a) the council member is truly uninformed, which is not reassuring given the decision they have to make; or
b) the member is deliberately trying to make the intervenor or the whole process look ridiculous, which shows a complete lack of respect both for the citizen and the public hearing process itself.
When challenged on the relevance of a question, one councillor could only respond by personally criticizing the intervenor.
When you have a room full of people who have opinions and concerns that differ from your own, I expect from elected representatives, at a minimum, that they listen respectfully.
The fact there is a room full of people who have concerns at this late stage of the process shows that the consultation process to date has been inadequate.
If people have the opportunity for an open exchange of information in an atmosphere of respect, it builds trust and understanding, which serves as a foundation for seeking common ground.
The opinions expressed last night by the citizens were not because the citizens are willfully uninformed or stupid, which is what some council members seemed bent on portraying.
Monday stands in sharp contrast to the city’s weeklong Porter Creek charette that I also attended.
As we sat in our mixed groups of city planners, engineers, environmentalists, citizens, I remarked on how such a diverse group of people — yes, with different opinions — could come together and work out solutions because we had a chance to become informed, to discuss, to find compromise and, most importantly — councillors Graham and Stockdale — to listen respectfully.
Toward the end of Monday night’s meeting, Graham showed a sincere interest in hearing what sort of consultation process would work.
I wanted to stand up and shout: “Look at the Porter Creek charette process. How about your own public engagement committee? Look at that!”
But that would have been disrespectful.
Speaking to council takes courage
On Monday evening I sat in the city council chambers for two hours listening to plea after plea to save McLean Lake from a proposed concrete batch plant.
I went prepared with intelligent and emotional things to say with the intent to support the residents of the McLean Lake area and other concerned citizens in their efforts to save the area from the heavy industrialization that will likely occur once it has been rezoned to industrial quarry.
But I’m new to the issue and scared easily that night.
I could go on about how the councillors treated the people who stood up that night, but that’s been done already.
I never did stand up to say what I had gone there to say. I regret that, and so here it is (more or less):
I moved to the Yukon almost 15 years ago for the trees, lakes, mountains, rivers, clean air and water and all of the things that most people have moved north for.
I never did imagine that I would live in a town or city again, but here I am, raising my children downtown, breathing all sorts of toxic things every day and looking out at dilapidated, snow-capped rooftops glowing in the moonlight instead of spruce trees, in order that I can run my business in the way that best serves my clients.
Much to my delight I have discovered a few of nature’s jewels within walking distance of my downtown home.
One of them is McLean Lake and its surrounding sanctuary. There are others, but I wonder for how long.
There is speculation about how much of an impact this batch plant will have on the environment around the lake, but let’s not find out.
Beyond that, I want to paint a picture for anyone who wasn’t at the public hearing on Monday night of the inside of the council chambers.
The room was packed, and there was overflow into the aisles and hall outside the chambers with people who care about McLean Lake.
One of Whitehorse’s greatest assets is the many residents who make it their life’s work, goal, intention and will to be good stewards to the Earth and her environment.
They are dedicated, educated, compassionate, brave and aware and they all work hard at making their footprint on the Earth as small as possible.
This is something to be proud of, to encourage and to reward.
The McLean Lake area is home to some of the finest of these people and allowing the industrialization and destruction of their backyard is a really big slap in the face.
I wonder, with a room full of people solidly against the application for the concrete batch plant being approved and only one (the applicant) in favour, who are we listening to and how did the application make it this far?
I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who did show up and stand up and to anyone else who has made an effort to save the McLean Lake area.
You are an amazing group of people and you are making a difference and I hope that your home is always a sanctuary, that you have clean water and air and that your children are free to play, roam and learn in their own backyards.
Heather Ashthorn, Almost Home Maternity Centre, Whitehorse
To all those people who were present at the public hearing regarding McLean Lake quarry on Monday night, I sincerely apologize for my behaviour.
In my position, I should never let frustration get in the way of good manners and respect for the concerns of others, and I will not let that happen again as long as I am on council.