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Mayor’s Column – October 25, 2017

October 25, 2017


When opposite viewpoints express community feelings on a topic, a Council ruling on the topic is bound to make some people happy and others sad, angry, disappointed, or otherwise looking for plan b or c. And so it is when Chetwynd Council rules. How could it be otherwise?

We read the information, we listen to the opinions of people affected by the issues, we try to make the best decisions under the circumstances. We are committed to making honest, ethical decisions free of personal interest. In fact, it is quite usual for a member of Council to self-identify as being in conflict of interest and excuse herself or himself from the discussion and decision.

Providing the solution for the temporary workers descending on Chetwynd is not to be taken lightly. On the one hand, temporary workers can fill up empty hotel rooms, suites, camp grounds, eat in our restaurants, and keep grocery stores open from 6 to 9. We’d like to be able to keep them comfortable, warm and dry when they are not on the job so that, in addition to the wages that they don’t spend here, they can take home good memories of time spent here.

On the other hand, which is by far the most calloused and blistered, Council can’t predict the future with any degree of certainty. (Of course, this is not news to you.) So when a businessperson tries to communicate her or his excitement about a looming business opportunity Council must take on the arduous task of weighing the cons as well as the pros of a yes or no answer.

Should Council allow the rezoning for a third worker camp in town? Should Council have allowed the maximum term of three years for the two already approved? All of us depend on business either directly or peripherally, but we are all dependent. But when the nod to business A potentially undercuts the revenues of business B Council has to be sure that the long-term results tend for the general good.

Too often we just don’t know, nor can we know with any certainty. We just have to make the decision that, to our mortal minds, carries the greatest potential for the common good.

In the case of the recent decision to disallow the proposal for a third in-town camp, Council considered a number of facts. (It is always comforting to have some facts at our disposal.) Fact one: Council has already rezoned for 416 beds. Fact two: Council recognizes that all rental beds in town are not full every night. (Just don’t drop in without a reservation because there might not be a bed in the next town either.) Fact three: Council understands that the temporary job numbers will have peaks and valleys based on the nature of the work at the time and we do not want to jeopardize the revenues of long-term, established businesses whose clients may be drawn away to the camps during the valley periods. Fact four: by its nature, pipeline construction is transitory. Those jobs will vanish away when the work is done.

And finally Fact five: as time moves on, as time does, Council can move with it. If circumstances change relative to work and accommodation, the question can always be revisited. But don’t read into this last fact more than Council intends.

Oh, by the way, “we must love them both – those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject. For both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in the finding of it” (Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274).


Merlin Nichols, Mayor