By Kelsey Verboom
What do the most recent Invermere council meeting and a bout of lice have in common? They will both leave you scratching your head.
At a regular meeting on May 7th, Invermere mayor and council spent less than 10 minutes discussing a proposed commercial development on 13th Ave. before tossing it out the window, but spent close to an hour talking in circles and subsequently passing a motion that Councillor Paul Denchuk described as “a stick thrown under the train” to try and further stall the Jumbo development.
Mayor Taft and some members of council then contradicted themselves by saying the motion wasn’t at all about Jumbo, but about the “democratic process” and governance in general. In that same spirit, this editorial isn’t at all about Jumbo; it’s about the democratic process and governance in general.
Now, when was the last time a proposed commercial development passed before the District of Invermere? It certainly has been a while. The proposal wasn’t ideal in location, but it had the potential to bring businesses to Invermere — possibly a gas bar, yoga studio, or a restaurant.
Council made no mention of suggestions or compromises that might make the development more plausible, but instead talked ad nauseam about why they should oppose provincial legislation that may potentially affect a development an hour from Invermere.
The rest of council should take a cue from Councillors Greg Anderson and Justin Atterbury, who both pointed out that council’s time and energy could be better spent focusing on projects in town in need of attention, rather than debate a motion that Mayor Taft himself admitted would likely have no effect in the big scheme of things.
Listening to council’s rather lengthy debate about the governance of Mountain Resort Municipalities, I couldn’t help thinking how distinctly similar — albeit on drastically different scales — the words and actions of Mayor Taft and select members of council are to the headache-inducing deer cull issue the town just dealt with.
After two years of following proper process, working with the province, and making the correct applications, all the proper permits are in place to proceed with the cull, council told those opposed. You had your chance to speak and be involved; even though you don’t necessarily agree with it, it’s time to let the democratic process take place, mayor and council said.
Fast forward a few months and some members of council are throwing a paperwork tantrum because they don’t agree with a provincial decision. It is now an appropriate time for them to take their own wise words into consideration.
If council is going to tout the democratic process, it is best to let it take place. That way, Invermere’s leaders can fully devote their energies to improving issues in town that matter right here, right now.