City circumvents citizen input

City circumvents citizen input I have been following the recent events around planning in Whitehorse. I have to say that the direction Whitehorse is going saddens me, but does not surprise me. I know how the city works. Several years ago, citizens bande

I have been following the recent events around planning in Whitehorse.

I have to say that the direction Whitehorse is going saddens me, but does not surprise me. I know how the city works.

Several years ago, citizens banded together to stop development in greenspaces. We had to do it, since planners and councillors came to public meetings and told us that this development was a “done deal,” so quit complaining.

They told us they knew what we really wanted better than we did, so let them “do their job,” let them “do what you elected us to do,” and we should just shut up and go home.

I wasn’t surprised. That is how they work.

We proved they were wrong. We forced a vote and followed the rules to prove that voters wanted to protect greenspaces. We wrote one of the most forward-thinking bylaws in the country and protected greenspace. That is how democracy works.

Now the city has proven when you throw enough taxpayer money at an issue, you will eventually get your way.

They kept litigating until they got a ruling in their favour. They trashed the greenspace bylaw. Not surprising. That is how they work.

Part of our vision required a referendum if the city just eliminated greenspaces in the next round of OCP planning. That is what they are doing now. We knew they would try that. That is how they work.

I hate to say it, but democracy is broken in Whitehorse. In my experience, it doesn’t matter if you vote, come to public meetings or provide input. The city has already decided what it wants and will stop at nothing to get its way. They decimated the laws that would have stopped them. That is how it works.

That is how it works in Whitehorse, in a banana republic dictatorship, or in a backward Third World country. It is not how it works in a democracy.

The Official Community Plan is supposed to be a 20-year document. It is not meant to be rewritten every few years to suit the current special interest group. Whitehorse needs to have a city-wide plebiscite on the final draft of an Official Community Plan that makes the significant changes this one proposes, and then listen to the voters.

That is how democracy works.

Carole Bookless

Juneau, Alaska