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.