Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Thank You to Those Who Said Thanks

I just wanted to express my appreciation to those citizens who came to the public meetings regarding York Rural Community on the 8, 9 and 10th of August. In particular I wanted to express my appreciation to those who thanked the Steering Committee and Executive Committee for their work. It was especially gratifying to hear words of thanks from citizens who are opposed to the project, or at least to the original boundaries of the project. I was delighted actually, to hear how many people at the meeting on the 10th at the Riverside Resort said that they were in favour of the Rural Community concept, but that they were opposed to the particular configuration represented by the proposed York Rural Community. Executive Committee members have sometimes devoted 2 to 3 meetings per week to this project since last December. On average we likely have met once per week. Steering Committee members have met about once a month. This volunteering is on top of normal LSD Advisory Committee work.

Ultimately, I think we are all better off if we are organized. I am not alone in this assessment. The report on the January 2017 Ice Storm by Judy Wagner says the same thing. Particularly around this issue of emergency preparedness, she says that non-organized rural communities are much less likely to meet minimum requirements for emergency planning. “Without question the lack of formal government at the local level resulted in service gaps in responding to the storm.” Emergency planning is a required component of being a Rural Community. A major recommendation of the report is that provincial government encourage unorganized rural areas to move more quickly to get organized so that citizens like us are better protected.

I have learned so much about my community and region through this process, and developed deeper bonds despite the feeling that sometimes the project has led to more divisiveness than unity. However, I think we are on the right path. On my way north for a week of holidays I stopped in to the Upper Miramichi town office. The staff there were lovely and helpful and said that they have been following our project and are hoping that we succeed. They expressed that despite division of opinion there as well the vast majority of residents now agree that becoming a Rural Community was the right move.

So, thanks to all that have been involved in the process thus far, on all sides. You have been active and engaged citizens and that is always the first step toward a better community.

Tom Beckley – Keswick Ridge

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