July 6, 2016
From a recent discussion with my colleagues in a Regional District Committee of the Whole (COW), I came away with a sense of the enormity of the task of cleanup and repair before us. For those most affected the challenge is huge, sometimes overwhelming. Complicating matters, there is generally the feeling that the government should do it. This is only partially correct. Governments are not the beginning and end of life on this planet. Some governments may think they are but these are deceived. In the end we, the people, have to take charge of most of our own affairs. That said, governments can do much to smooth our efforts at self-help by actually listening to the thoughts of the people affected.
We, the people, however, need to acknowledge the legitimate role of government – to ensure stability and respect for one another as we go about our legitimate businesses. Some of that ensuring will naturally involve regulating the actions we can take with respect to our natural and human-contrived environments.
Our discussion focus was almost exclusively on flood recovery measures and the actions the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) might have to take to get appropriate responses from the various Ministries responsible in the senior governments. From this discussion I derived some questions of my own, the answers to which are yet to be seen:
- Should the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) examine its engineering practices and make some changes to cope with potential future flood events.
- Should the Ministry of Environment (MOE) temporarily relax its restrictions on doing work in streambeds to allow for adjustments that could prevent future floods.
Immediate response on the part of the PRRD may include the following actions:
- Send delegations to meet with Ministers and Staff of responsible Ministries as soon as we can obtain appointments, to lay our concerns and ideas for improvements before them.
- Better yet, invite the Ministers to visit the affected areas in person.
- Meet with the Ministers again at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to refresh their thinking.
- Meet with the residents as soon as possible to begin a collaborative approach to flood prevention.
We need to recognize that rural residents will have to take some responsibility for their own protection. For example, the PRRD can create service areas for specific projects that the residents approve by referendum but the cost may have to be covered by taxation.
As we go forward in this massive recovery program, it is important to avoid blaming and name calling, and to spend our energies focused on positive action. Some of us may cringe at the actions we have to take and at the cost of these actions, but that’s life on this decaying world. In the end, we are largely responsible for protecting our own properties and lives while looking out for the welfare of our neighbours. In the end, recovery will be a collaborative effort with PRRD, affected residents, and government each doing its part to restore our lives in a coordinated, well-planned effort.
Once again I want to say how thankful I am that I live here among such caring neighbours. Your responses during the crisis were phenomenal and commendable. Without a doubt, the damage would have been immensely greater without the immediate and effective energy you volunteers threw into defending our lives and properties.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor