Lately, it seems that Red Deer’s City council has been turning a little too much to the public for direction in certain decisions.
Take water fluoridation, for example. Currently, the debate over whether to continue to add fluoride to the City’s drinking water is all the rage. So is the discussion about how to gauge public opinion. That sounds good, but it turns out they are gauging public opinion on how to gauge public opinion. Seems a bit redundant and time consuming to say the least.
While we do think the public’s opinion matters on this particular topic, can’t council make its own decision on how to proceed with gathering input? Council needs to decide if a plebiscite is appropriate or if a simple survey is enough. They shouldn’t be turning to the public for help with this type of decision. This is why they are elected in the first place.
We do believe that public input is important, but at the same time councillors were elected ‘in trust’ to make decisions on our behalf. Open houses are typically so sparsely attended and generally it’s the same people who attend them. Does this show complete apathy on the part of citizens, or are they more interested in letting City council make some of these decisions on their behalf?
If voters are unhappy with the job council is doing, they will no doubt be flooded with complaints via email and phone calls anyways.
Another example is the current discussion over bringing in a ward system to the City, which would divide it up for electoral purposes. Councillors would represent a certain section of the City. Some councillors had a clear-cut opinion on this topic when it was recently discussed while others said it’s a decision ‘for the people’. Really?
This kind of thinking is getting a bit old. We think the majority of people would tell council just to get on with it and make a decision one way or the other.
It seems like some councillors try to get out of making decisions for fear of some kind of backlash, or that it might somehow affect their political careers down the road.
The trend of seeking input again and again could be just as detrimental.
Come election time, the public may reflect on the last three years and wonder what decisions were solely made by council?
Councillors understand some of these issues far better than the average citizen, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We ask that council be mindful of the reason they were elected and move forward with more confidence in themselves and as a group.