Thursday, April 19, 2012

Governance is hard

Before our new Council was elected, two Bowen Island residents, Wolfgang Duntz and Richard Underhill, took the municipality to court over a complaint they had about undue process.  They claimed that Council had not given proper notice of documents related to the approval of the Official Community Plan, and they sought an injunction against the implementation of the plan.  The injunction was dismissed, because, well, it wasn't substantive.  Many islanders in fact argued that it was malicious, while others said that if the municipality is not following their own procedures it serves them right to be taken to court.

Now it turns out that Wolfgang Duntz later ran for and was elected to Council (in fact he sat on Council while the action he was pursuing against Council was unresolved and while the Court was ruling on how the costs would be handled, a decision that has ended up costing the municipality - the one Duntz is a Councillor for - incurring a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars).

But governance is hard and it turns out that in an effort to help deal with the green waste that is generated on Bowen, Councillor's Duntz's Council may have in fact done exactly the same thing again.  They made a decision without proper process being followed that runs counter to the concerns of many neighbours.  And they made this decision even as Underhill and Duntz's action was still being settled.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.  Governance is a tricky thing to get right and I don't think as a community we can defend ourselves from court challenges every time a process is not exactly followed to the letter.  On the other hand it will be interesting to see what those who brayed for blood before the election have to say now.

I think the proper course of action is for the Council to talk to the local neighbours, and reintroduce their motion using proper process.  That way every one gets a good hearing and the decision gets made properly.  What do you think they should do?