Citizenship practice

By Tom Read

The Powell River Regional District lives in a former residence in the Townsite part of Powell River. The residence may date from 1911, but the PRRD started in the late 1960s. Texada Island is known as "Electoral Area D" of the regional district.

It is not uncommon for Texadans to consider themselves citizens of Texada Island. If you care enough about a place to identify yourself as a citizen, not merely a “resident,” then it follows that you would find it worthwhile to keep yourself informed about public policies affecting your home. So it is with me.

A routine part of my citizenship practice is to keep an informed eye on government. All levels of government affect our lives here on Texada, but I especially like to follow the activities of our local government, the Powell River Regional District (PRRD).  Why? Because local government touches our community directly, every day, and it seems more accountable to citizens than the “senior” levels of government (provincial and federal).  Here are some examples of PRRD agenda items:

— Proposed tax rates for Texada property owners for next year, and the cost of our local government;

— Proposed new services and the tax increases and fees expected to fund them;

— How often the PRRD Directors meet in camera (behind closed doors) and for what purposes;

— Who is recommended (and ultimately given) contracts, at what cost, to do tree work, gardening, carpentry, grass-cutting, facilities maintenance, and various types of professional consulting regarding Texada;

— How many campers stayed at Shelter Point Park last year, compared to previous years;

— Proposed land subdivisions;

— Proposed new regulations, including zoning bylaws, development permits, and burning restrictions;

— Proposed water licenses;

— Proposed industrial developments, including aquaculture, mining, power generation facilities, and communication towers;

— Who gets appointed to the local and regional committees that shape public policy on Texada;

— This year’s cost of insuring, heating, lighting and administering Texada’s public buildings;

— Who wants a local road permanently closed to vehicle traffic, and why;

— Which community groups are getting grants from the PRRD;

and the list goes on and on….

The word “proposed” occurs frequently, doesn’t it? That’s because such topics show up as agenda items for PRRD committee meetings before they’re voted on at an actual PRRD Directors meeting. There’s a window of opportunity, sometimes only a day, other times stretching into weeks, months or even years, when citizens will first learn about an issue, yet still have time to provide input to the directors before they vote on it.

Since most of the real work of governance takes place in committee meetings, it’s critical for citizens to get a look at committee agendas before the committee members meet to thrash out their “recommendations” to the formal Board of Directors. Why the quotes? Because by the time a committee makes specific recommendations, that’s quite often word-for-word (and dollar-for-dollar) what the directors will eventually approve as official policy.

Holding government accountable isn’t a particularly sexy topic, so I congratulate you if you’ve stayed with me this far. Now we come to the heart of the matter: the do-it-yourself citizen’s guide to keeping track of our local public servants. Here’s how to do it online:  go to the PRRD website home page, click on Meetings, then click on Agendas, then open and read each .pdf agenda package (warning: these are typically large files, requiring a high-speed internet connection). Beware also that the agenda package for a given committee is usually posted about 24 hours before the meeting, so if something important shows up, you may have to act fast to be heard in a meaningful way.

Each agenda package usually begins with Minutes from the previous meeting, so if you want to read about new stuff, scroll down and pick out anything that mentions “Texada” or that might affect Texada Island. By doing this each month, I feel that I’m much better informed as a citizen, and I am even able to occasionally give meaningful input before decisions that affect me are made.


2 Responses to “Citizenship practice”

  1. 1 Margy November 29, 2009 at 15:45

    Citizenship and being an active citizen is so important. Unfortunately, it is something that we take for granted much of the time. I was born a US citizen and lived in the States until I discovered Powell River. I am sad to say that I never got involved in my local community. But maybe that is a function of living in a place as huge as Los Angeles. Yes, I lived in a smaller city within that huge county, but even that was a very large town. Now that I live in Powell River I know more people, am more active and interested. In a way, Powell River saved me from myself. – Margy

  2. 2 Carl Rising-Moore January 30, 2010 at 11:22

    Hello Texada,

    Several decades ago Queen Elizabeth visited Victoria.

    I lived on Texada at that time, so traveled to Victoria to tell the Queen what I thought about her relationship with Canada.

    I carried a sign that stated CONSTITUTION YES…MONARCHY NO.

    Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy. This means that every person in Canada, with the exception of First Nations are subjects of the Queen or King. That is why the queen’s face in on the Canadian money.

    As far as governance is concerned, every elected official in Canada, every employee of the cities, provinces or the country are servants of the Queen or King.

    The most powerful person in Canada is the Governor General, the most powerful person in any province is the Lt. Governor.

    You might elect a Prime Minister, MLA, MP, Mayor, Regional District Rep., etc, but they are only servants that administer on behalf of the Crown to make decisions on behalf of her subjects…you.

    This is the reason that people are protesting now about the suspension of the Federal Government’s deliberations by elected officials.

    The PM visited the Governor General,(two times recently) and requested a suspension of voting by MP’s to avoid a non-confidence vote by your elected MP’s.

    My question to you on Texada and the Canadian people is; are you willing to continue to be subjects of the Crown, or are you interested in a grass roots movement to create a non-violent revolution to become a Republic?

    In a Republic, you are the foundation of making decisions from the bottom up instead of the top down situation that currently exists. The Canadian People can decide their future instead of that future being imposed from England by a woman, and her family, that has no idea what it is like to work to make a living.

    A movement exists in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and England to rid ourselves of this old fashioned concept of a continuation of the feudal system that most subjects do not understand.

    For many years, there existed in your region a movement to hold the B.C. government and B.C. Hydro accountable for the decision to build the Cheekye-Dunsmuir twin 500 KV power lines to Vancouver Island.

    In the end, public input into the justification to tax the public 2 Billion dollars and impact communities and nature throughout the syestem were ignored. Why? Because the public right to question and offer input into this massive system could be ignored. B.C. Hydro is a Crown Corporation. Everyone working there is a servant of the Queen working on behalf of you her subjects.

    The Crown can make decisions that you cannot change or question.

    How long are you willing to be subjects?

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