Well, we're just about through the first official week of the "holding pattern" that has been imposed by council on the Aquatics Centre and Fieldhouse at the CKC multiplex.
I know, I know - I haven't been doing a lot of blogging lately and so it might feel like this issue has just wizzed by. Well rest assured that even though I haven't been blogging on it people out there are talking about it. Since the council committee of the whole vote by a 5-4 margin to delay making a decision I've had about 45 emails. Some support holding off on the decision and other are saying "What the heck are you guys doing? Get it built already!" I really appreciate the input from both sides and I respect anyone who takes the time to let council know what they are thinking - no matter what side of the issue they are on. It is, after all, about the conversation.
There have also been two Facebook groups started in support of going ahead with the CKC site.
... I have to share one of the emails I (and the rest of council) received, the email was entitled: "Decisions by Facebook?"
"My 14 year-old has been on the receiving end of a Facebook blitz to “Build the Aquatic Centre NOW”. I am not sure who is behind this, but there are three issues that have to be explored here:
1. Plans for the CKC were begun 10 years ago, and the city has grown by about 15 000 since then. I think it’s called “change”, and it definitely creates a domino effect, so DEAL WITH IT, don’t ignore it.
2. Council should involve themselves in approval of projects--not design (unless of course, they have extensive building, architectural, and business experience.)
3. Trying to create a false impression of support (such as last summer’s skewed survey or the present Facebook panic) is totally undemocratic. The voices that must be heard are those of taxpayers and others of VOTING AGE. Clearly, a large number of respondents to an anonymous newspaper survey or Facebook request do not fit either category.
As a new council with a fresh, inclusive approach to the many issues we must deal with in Grande Prairie, I hope you can judge any of these “surveys” on their merit, and not bend to any contrived result presented to you."
Wow, ok.... First off I think it's great that younger people have a way to get involved in discussions about the future of their community. People shouldn't be barred from being involved important issues until they are voting age, after all young people are certainly a group that we hope would use a facility like this - their input should be important and they should use all available mediums to express their opinion.
Second, the plans at the CKC have evolved and changed over time as has Grande Prairie. The proposed Aquatics Centre wasn't designed 10 years ago - it's been designed over the last year or so with input from the users of the current pool and it reflects the best examples from other buildings across the province. The design of the Aquatics Centre is BIG, bigger than anything that currently exists north of Edmonton. It is built for the future of our region.
Finally, to suggest that people actively talking about issues and trying to round up support though a new medium like Facebook is undemocratic is like saying that using a photocopier to print up handouts and pamphlets for a cause is undemocratic. The way I see it the more people are talking, writing, blogging, Facebooking, texting or even podcasting about an issue the better off democracy is! It's not about the medium, it's about the conversation.
Whew, felt good to get that off my chest! : )
Anyhow, while I've been away from the keyboard someone has been actively blogging on the topic.... GPConservative has two posts here and here. The first covers a little perspective of what council members said during the election. (Most supported going ahead with the CKC project pretty clearly, although there were a couple who wanted to shut it down) The second posting looks at the Peace Country Wellness Facility Society and the impact they've had on the project.
I think I've been pretty clear in all my prior postings, I totally support going ahead with the CKC site. Changing location at this point in the project is not in the best interests of the public. If there was an organization that was going to come on as an equal partner an pump in an extra $40 million dollars - that might be a different story but my experience tells me that that is not going to happen for a number of reasons.