In a recent note to the Saanich Fire chief, I queried as to whether the department had undertaken any citizen outreach before lending its support to the permanent parking ban on Glendenning Road.
Due to the significant impairment/disruption for the substantial number of visitors who use the south access to Mt. Doug Park, it would seem that communication/interaction with park users would be a necessity.
In September 2013, the administration issued a “public participation” policy, to guide public participation activities by the district. (The policy can be found at: saanich.ca/living/about/news/2014/documents/public-participation.pdf)
The policy begins, “The District of Saanich believes that decisions are improved by engaging citizens and other stakeholder groups. The district is committed to undertaking public participation on issues that affect citizens’ lives and their district.”
The guiding principles are: inclusiveness, transparency, access, respect and honesty. No, seriously.
And yet, to my knowledge, the fire department process did not include any engagement with citizens, including park users, prior to offering its support for the permanent ban on parking on Glendenning Road.
As a result, it would appear that the department failed to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the district’s own public participation policy.
Of course, the other possibility is that the administration never truly committed itself to the policy, and, as a result, departments feel free to ignore the policy without any fear of consequence or recrimination.
Either way, residents in general, and park users in specific, were excluded from the process.
In the district’s 2012 citizens survey, 60 per cent of respondents believed that the district failed to listen to its own citizens. And in 2015, that’s no longer good enough.