Secrets and the Election

The old Lantzville Story

Why is this election season so quiet? Oh sure, there are the usual visual clues: the smiley-faced mailouts and campaign signs blighting the landscape that both feature the inflated political buzzwords like honesty, integrity etc. All they really say is look what I, or my buddies, are willing to pay for.

Other than these clues you could hear a pin drop. Why is that? In a nutshell it is because the public and the candidates are not being completely honest with each other and that reflects a historical context behind “the two secrets”. There are two elephants in the Council room that nobody wants to talk about, and even each elephant is pretending the other one is not there.

SECRET # 1.

Many residents (I believe a majority) do not want the transformative growth that an increased water source would enable and they secretly hope that attempts to secure more water will fail.

Not wanting to look like Luddites, we rarely say no to the various attempts made on our behalf to secure additional water but we have always been a little relieved when they have failed.

In 35 years, while Lantzville has remained largely unchanged, the Outer World has become unrecognisable. North Nanaimo’s dense neighborhoods and business districts have pressed up against our boundary. Since our own last period of transformative growth in the 1960’s and 70’s when Lantzville exploded with the Pebble Beach, Peterson/Leland, Winchelsea and Winds developments we have gotten used to the quiet, secure sameness of our neighborhoods that the limitations of our water supply have so far ensured. We grew to like it. The Outer World might be careening past 7 billion humans but not us. When we cross back over the boundary and leave the cacophony behind us we enjoy the predictability and spaciousness of our own neighborhoods. Secretly, we don’t want that to change and we know that more water will change everything. The Outer World will intrude. It seems inevitable.

The candidates will say, “Oh, but we have the OCP to protect us so more water will solve problems and make things better!” Many residents will remember the first challenge to the OCP when a property owner wanted to locate a business on a residential property outside the business district and, despite overwhelming opposition at the public hearing, several of the current candidates continued to support the rezoning. We don’t entirely trust the candidates

when it comes to preserving the OCP which, after all, is a piece of paper. Look at the dogs breakfast/planning disaster that is the legacy of former Nanaimo Councils that routinely rubber stamped rezoning challenges to their OCP. This fear of the utterly transformative nature of additional water is well founded. Thus, our inclination to want an eventual referendum before any final deal is made…..and the possibility that we will quietly say no. That is why we won’t get one.

SECRET # 2.

Most candidates want to see the transformative growth that additional water will enable but couch it in feelgood terms like senior’s housing, an enhanced Business District and a chicken in every pot.

Stasis is boring. Ask the administrative staff at the District Office. Ask a planner with little to plan. Candidates don’t want to sit on a Council in a District where little ever changes even when that is the tacit but understated desire of residents. Candidates want to initiate change, otherwise why seek office? There is nothing corrupt about any of the candidate’s desires for transformative change. It is simply their nature. Sure, some may own developable land and others have friends and business associates that do but if we prohibited candidacy in those categories who among us could ever seek office?

There are no candidates in this election that are saying let’s not seek additional water. If a candidate would honestly say, “I like the community the way it is and will work against change”, they would top the polls. Only one candidate is opposed to acquiring water from outside but he has stopped short of saying no to change. For the rest, all the campaign storm and bluster is in the details. They think they know how to make our lives better and it is not by leaving us alone.

The mantra “senior’s housing” has given way to “housing choices” but is still attached to increased water supply. Who really knows what senior’s want? Questionnaires on this subject are notoriously inaccurate. That is because we seniors all want to remain in our homes and gardens as long as we possibly can and are very equivocal when it comes to looking at the alternatives pushed at us by the social work crowd or their unwelcome partners the “retirement inc.” companies that are drooling at our assets. Personally, when I can’t cope with our house and garden anymore, I want a little condo in Yaletown. But that’s just me.

It is “housing choices” that make the silent majority a little nervous. How many? What kind? Next door? What about noise and traffic? Maybe we will luck out and the water deal will collapse and we can go on happily as we are.

So, if you are wondering why this election is pretty quiet it is because we have residents who don’t want what most candidates want and everyone is keeping quiet about it because they kinda know but don’t want to really say. That’s Lantzville. Maybe it is the world.

Brian Blood

Brian is old Lantzville. He gardens, walks his Aussies, reads about the Ottoman Empire and was an anarchist in his youth.

Posted in Articles, Community Activities Articles, District of Lantzville, Letters to the Editor, Local Development, News, November 2014
7 comments on “Secrets and the Election
  1. Jack DeJong says:

    Brian,

    The boat left the harbour when we incorporated and developed our OCP. The extension of our containment boundary to include Foothills set the pace and locked the District in for further development.

    There is a certain irony in that one of my opponents is distancing himself from these earlier decisions and asserting I am the development driven candidate. But here we are it is all in the OCP and finally a water agreement, not to say that the same water shortages and solutions would have evolved if we had stayed as an Electoral Area. But I suspect less likely.

    Water is going to be the issue for Eastern Vancouver Island over the next 50 years Note Qualicum Beach, Parksville Nanoose, Cedar etc. This agreement is the best insurance policy we will ever buy and it does so without any financial commitment until water actually flows. I feel very comfortable knowing I have not sacrificed this communities financial position nor its independence. I worked within the parameters of previous decisions and moved on what I had said I would try to do in 2011. What a difference 3 years make !!

    I will support to move forward. I don’t like the ambiguous position taken by some. In fact renegotiating is just about impossible I guess it makes good election press. This agreement just barely passed Nanaimo council on two votes and I see little support for revisions no matter who is elected next in Nanaimo. The window of support was rapidly closing and was one motivating factor to move ahead.

    I am also quite confident that a community driven water agreement. rather than development driven one is a magnitude superior in our negotiations with any developer. Fundamentally we have the water and can set the conditions for its use.

    The whole issue and your concerns with the potential dynamic change for the District is arguably too sentimental to stand up. The sum total, no matter how you cut it is 225 new water connections. This may result some growth and in building in the vicinity of the existing water utility. I expect a fair number of new connections to existing homeowners. The net gain is probably about a 100 to 150 new structures over a 10 year period and widely distributed. Hardly enough to get excited about but we can certainly use the revenue.

    The 250 for the Winds Area is a no gain proposition.( It will require a vote)

    This leaves the 50 annual for new development We’ll see what kind of amenities we can get in return. The District has made no commitments and so far I have seen no $6.0 million dollar checks.

    Jack

  2. John Dunn says:

    Well, said Brian.

    The reason most live in Lantzville is because it is their home not an investment to be commodified.

    We are very fortunate to live in such a idilic part of the world, as you mention once you enter Lantzville the rush is over you can relax without the hustle and bustle.
    This push for over developing Lantzville will turn us into another Dover Bay and further isolate the residents from local government , as you mention a city planner ? for Lantzville, some one mentioned that we have more staff than any other town of our size, if so what is going on, oh I guess taxation is endless if you can just add a few percent here and a few percent there and before you know it we can not afford to live here because of taxes then we join Nanaimo the worst possible outcome.

    Old folks home’s — really, in Lantzville. [ we all have homes] My neighbour sold and moved many years ago to move into a condo when that was the craze for retiring, saw him about a year later and I guess the shine had worn off as he complained he missed puttering around his yard and wished he had never sold.

    After the election we will see how awake Lantvillagers are. I am disappointed that there is no all candidates meeting at the hall. [ are they scared] One at the restaurant for councillors and the other at the pub for the mayors. I hope the memory of past councils are not entirely faded from Lantvillagers memory [ letters of reprimand for not voting them back in] and the show of protest over the road into the Peterson Road area that got residents actually fired up over an issue will allow them to think and remember and vote for Lantzville As Is.

  3. Jim Bell says:

    First, you’re right: This is a very quiet election. Three years ago I had no trouble getting a house full of people for a candidates’ meeting. This year I beat the bushes and then cancelled the “kitchen table” meeting for lack of interest. I then attended the candidates’ meeting at Riso, and the turn out was little better. No one has even organized an official all-candidates meeting. Very quiet indeed.

    Second, why? I think your analysis is ingenious, Brian, but I’m thinking the bigger reason is no hot button issue, no headlines screaming juicy controversy. Last election, Compassion Farm was all the talk. This year there is nothing equivalent. Council, people say, passed an urban agriculture bill and took care of the problem. But only the first half of the statement is true. The bylaw was passed but the underlying problem that put the “juicy” before “controversy” is still alive and unhealthy. That is why this election is every bit as important as the last one.

  4. liz fox says:

    Maybe the reason why this election is quiet is because most people are ok with what’s happening rather than being reluctantto speak up? The unusually high turnout in the last election was because many people were not happy about the urban farm issue and were eager to “throw the bums out”. I attended the “water meeting” at Costin Hall last week and while there were inevitably those against the water agreement, those that spoke up to support it were clapped. I too like the peacefulness of Lantzville but living in one of the newer areas that no doubt caused opposition when built back in the 70′s, I don’t really believe that development of the foothills will change us into an urban nightmare; besides the time for opposition is well past and if you walk up there now it is full of broom which is an ugly and spreading fire hazard,vehicles can now get in followed inevitably by garbage; discarded armchairs, broken bottles,etc etc. Far better to have housing for which the roads are already there, the lots have been cleared and the new residents will look after the area and will pay taxes that will fund infrastructure for us all. I believe there is also a 900 acre park allowance? Travel to and fro to those houses will not create a traffic bottleneck as access can be through Phantom or Aulds/Ware along the edges of the municipality, not through the middle. It is interesting that some of those running for council currently but now opposing development were in office when the original development proceeded, it was only delayed by lack of water.
    Maybe I’m wrong but my understanding regarding the desire for “senior housing” is not for housing where care is provided but for smaller housing units where independent seniors can move once their gardens become too much to manage and they don’t need so much space. A “condo in Yaletown” sounds nice but so does a small place in Lantzville where you can totter down to the store for the paper/coffee, sit and look at the view and remain in your community where your friends are. Its kind of ironic that a “condo in Yaletown” becomes the ideal partly because a high number of earths 7 billion have already moved there but we don’t want them here! Lantzville is not extra-terrestrial and I guess we’ll have to accept our share!
    With climate change, available potable water that is already scarce in this part of the island can only get worse. Contrary to fears of assimilation by Nanaimo, water sharing is probably our only and best option to maintain Lantzville’s independence preventing us from dwindling into a tired little wart on Nanaimo’s backside!!

  5. Lloyd Erickson says:

    I suggest that this election has been quiet because none of the politicians today seem strong enough to take a stance and voice their true opinions. Once upon a time the NDP clearly wanted to tax rich corporations and spend more on the homeless and helpless. Not today. Today all politicians are coloured the same homogeous grey. A person has to dig a little to find the truth. One of the mayoral candidates dodged the truth when asked about his stance on “development in general”. Yet he is a member of the Lantzville Business Improvement Association. As a businessman do you suppose he is NOT in favour of development?
    Most of the candidates would seem to be in favour of developing a certain amount of “affordable housing” for our sons and daughters and for seniors. But when asked whether they would support zoning that would accomodate a traditional “trailer park”, then whoa! That won’t work. We need a Council that says “how can we make that work”, not a Council full of members that do nothing but criticize others.

  6. Tom Hocking says:

    Brian, kudos, and thank you for starting this long overdue discussion. Quiet, indeed! Judging by the proportion of roadside campaign signs, for awhile it seemed there was just one candidate seriously contesting the mayoralty seat, and two also-rans. I was surprised and disappointed to learn there was to be no official all-candidates’ debate. It seems like voters are suffering from a critical shortage of information upon which to base their electoral decisions. Only one candidate seems to have made a good effort at making himself available to answer voters’ questions.

    When my wife and I moved to Lantzville in 2003 I was thrilled to find our little sanctuary of peaceful sanity so close the the hubbub and urban sprawl of north Nanaimo. Here, at last, we found life on our small forested acreage to be the perfect blend of nature and amenities within reasonable proximity. Within the year our daughter, her husband, and their two children moved into a house nearby. Lantzville seemed like a model of what the ideal island community could be.
    When the opportunity to become more involved in community life arose, I took a seat on the OCP, excited about having a voice in the shaping of Lantzville’s future while protecting what was best about this unique setting. But there was no discussion or debate of issues around which our fate would depend. As it turned out, an “OCP writer” from outside was contracted to draught our Plan, and my job was to rubber stamp it. Surely the writer must have been given some input from the community before he hammered out that document.
    And now the spectre of making water available for “future development” has arisen once again. We all know that having enough clean, fresh water is essential for all life to exist.
    It should be a basic human right. But it’s one thing to provide water to an existing residence whose well has gone bad, and quite another to make that water available to developers who would like to come here with hundreds of new housing starts, putting thousands more cars and trucks onto roads like Aulds and Phantom which were never intended to handle those volumes of traffic safely. Now, that “Foothills” project may find their elusive font of fresh water up in those hills. If they do produce their own water this time, that does not resolve the existing water issue with regard to other areas yet to be ‘developed’.
    Dare I say, “If we supply it, they will come”?

  7. Linda Westby says:

    Yes, this conversation is overdue. Two candidates have declared they will provide municipal water to all residents district-wide. Their statement,in fact, disregards the most important part of the equation, THE RESIDENTS. We have not yet done the research on areas of our community that use private wells nor have we yet been consulted as to whether we need municipal water in our areas. We WILL be part of those discussions when it is time for them. Municipal water supply to these areas requiring major infrastructure extension may not be needed and may not be the best solution to a small number of problem wells; the residents of those areas will decide. It is not the mandate of elected officials to force their own vision of the community on residents; their mandate is to represent the residents vision of their community.

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