During the public hearings for the Three Sisters Mountain Village area structure plans, the digital platform offered us the option of listening to every speaker. Presenters spoke eloquently and clearly about specific concerns arising from the two ASPs.
Many speakers prefaced their presentation with something approximating, “I am not against development. My objections to these ASPs are related to ...” after which they spoke about a specific issue or two. Generally, presenters were respectful of council, administration, the proponents and other presenters.
Council was generous with their time and their attention while we all had our turns to speak.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard in a recent conversation council and some administrative personnel have been subjected to disrespectful communications. Yes – “hearsay," but I have been thinking about that conversation and hope as a community we can maintain civil discourse about development — or any issues — in Canmore.
It is OK to disagree with any of the Town administration and council or others. However, being rude and mean-spirited is simply inarticulate. It is little different than physical abuse. Anger, directed at another, is bullying. It undermines the “conversation” and derails the good intentions. It gains little but disdain — from those with whom one disagrees and possibly from allies.
Development will eventually happen.
I hope the conversations about what might work for our community – this large, terrific, varied and shifting community – will continue. How can we make sure they are worthwhile?
- By being reasonable, listening patiently and trying to understand what we hear.
- By denying anger, unfounded opinion and denying bullying tactics any opportunity for expression.
- By being respectful of Canmore council and administration. They are all working hard to understand the laws and the bylaws, the policies and conditions that affect every decision large and small they have to make.
- By respecting those with whom one disagrees and anticipating that respect to be reciprocated.
- By finding productive ways to ask questions, and to express concerns and ideas that will keep them part of the dialogue. Clear questions will help us to find livable solutions.
A terrific quote from John F. Kennedy seems entirely appropriate to this current community process: “We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
“This” – speaking up as individuals about how Canmore and our community may change, about keeping our community “liveable” and (even) possible for others to move here, about environmental health in the Bow Valley, about working to reverse climate damage, about the health of our wild community (and more) – is a privilege and well worth a lot of the kind of “discomfort” acknowledged in the quote.