It seems like these days instead of debating an issue or idea, some are instead focused on attacking the character and motives of those who are the forefront of trying to create a better community for everyone.
Ad hominem ad nauseum if you will.
For a wide range of local issues we will continue to fail to find solutions if instead of engaging in a genuine discussion of the topic at hand we focus on who someone thinks is to blame for the frustration they feel.
And indeed these issues are frustrating and people feel strongly. There are complex problems without easy solutions, but many demand easy solutions and don’t realize the complexity.
Take housing, for example.
There is a crisis in this valley when it comes to affordable and available housing and it puts our community and local economy at risk. Watching human beings struggle to find a roof over their head that doesn’t take 50 per cent of their pre-tax income in one of the most expensive real estate market in the country – can elicit more than just frustration.
Like watching the Town of Canmore navigate its way through how to manage overnight parking or camping in the community by those who have chosen an alternative housing option - the van life.
For some, this problem appeared overnight. For others, this has been decades in the making.
But while council is a comfortable and familiar punching bag for many in this community when it comes to housing, this is a focus that does nothing to help find solutions.
Finger pointing and blaming those who are actually engaged in finding solutions to the problem, is not the same as engaging in the issue and solving problems.
Over the past 15 years, Canmore has created 270 units of rental and ownership perpetually affordable housing units in this community. Elected officials have worked to get local developers on board to provide affordable housing units as part of their subdivisions, have cracked down on illegal tourist homes in residential neighbourhoods and have used municipal land to see more rental housing added to the community.
With the new Land Use Bylaw’s proposed regulations to allow secondary suites in all single family and duplex homes, there is even more progress towards creating housing in the community.
At the same time, we have seen phase one of seniors housing at the Bow River Lodge completed and the start of phase two is currently underway, intended to create the type of seniors housing currently missing from the valley.
But yet it is not enough. Because the problem is beyond just what a town council can handle. It is just one level of government, and not even the level that is responsible for housing.
Yet if you were to go online and log into your social media streams you will see vitriol and finger pointing directly at the level of government that has done the most to address this issue.
Instead of debating ideas and talking about how as a valley we can achieve more housing for our friends and neighbours who live and work here - it appears that some would rather blame those who have stepped forward and taken on the task of working to solve these problems.
Holding elected officials accountable is important, but there is a difference between ensuring politicians are solving problems and creating new problems by blaming them for not finding easy fixes for complex issues.
It isn’t just housing. It is everything we deal with as a valley. Whether it is a high school sports team name, the elk on the highway near Canmore, parking and congestion from tourism – it is all fodder to criticize community leaders and belittle efforts and successes that have been achieved so far.
So the next time you find yourself taking aim at those who have stepped up to be part of the solution, the community leaders that are willing to have the difficult discussions, maybe pause for second before you post that rant on social media first.
And ask yourself – how can you be part of the solution and help create community for everyone instead of a keyboard warrior creating background noise that distracts from the real issue?