Ambleside Dundarave Ratepayers Association

AGM

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

2019 Outgoing President’s Report

Democracy cannot exist without the active and informed participation of citizens in political and civic issues. It is vital that citizens identify and promote their interests, values and priorities so that elected officials may listen and respond accordingly. The health of the community and your quality of life depends on this!  While we may like to think our quality of life can be guaranteed by a periodic visit to a ballot box – it cannot. One cannot simply rely on public servant and elected officials to take care of your interests without actively participating.  Regrettably, this sometimes proves to be unduly challenging.

The most consistent complaint ADRA hears is that community engagement activities are biased or designed to lead participants to a pre-determined outcome – which unfortunately prompts many to disengage.  Therefore, not only is participating important – so is supporting and promoting transparent and objective processes. Processes where individuals and communities are able to exert influence bring about change.  We need a thriving culture of civic participation – not one that is fearful of polite applause.  Continuous improvement of these processes is something we should all strive for.

This past year, in addition to our ongoing efforts to keep you informed and involved, ADRA held not one, but two very successful candidate meetings, one for mayoralty candidates and the other for councillor candidates.  (The audio transcripts of these meetings may become of interest during the council term.)  While we were challenged by the scarcity of available community space to hold these events, were pleased that both drew large, and ultimately very appreciative crowds.  The unsolicited community feedback we received about these events was overwhelmingly positive.

While we have yet to have members B-Line questions posed December 5, answered, we did hold a successful B-Line Town Hall meeting that again attracted a standing room only crowd.

Another successful event was the B-Line Town Hall meeting we recently held. Again, we attracted a standing room only crowd.  Many of these were first time participants who essentially found an issue on their doorstep they could just not ignore.  There are some who will try to dismiss this as NIMBYism – but this label is almost always unfair.

First of all, people SHOULD care about what occurs in their back yard. Such actions should never garner criticism as and there is nothing wrong with standing up for your own community and with fellow citizens who want to preserve their quality of life. It is unfair to paint such people as obstructionists when there is actually far more nuance to an issue and a genuine desire to see better options.  Not all change is worth embracing and we have a right to protect the things we care about.

Solving a problem, any problem, should not mean creating serious new ones. It should entail maintaining or improving our quality of life, not eroding it.  Changes should enrich our lives, support our health, and increase our prosperity not threaten our safety, harm our health, and destroy our natural beauty.  It is my hope that the B-Line issue will shake some from political passivity and empower them to actively contribute to improve our beautiful community.

Upcoming issues worthy of your informed involvement include:

  • the Ambleside Local Area Plan,
  • the Gordon Avenue project, and
  • the ubiquitous issue of genuine community engagement and public influence

I’d like to thank your ADRA Board of Directors who have volunteered much time and effort to better our community:  Ray Richards, Heather Mersey, Elaine Fonseca, Neil Carroll, Judy Chambers, and Sandra Leidl.   I regret being unable to attend in person to give each of these people my sincere thanks and wish the upcoming board my best wishes for an informed, involved and engaged community.

Sincerely, Scenery Slater