By Brian Lee
By Brian Lee
You might have already picked up on faint rumblings about the formation of what could be called a "ratepayers association."
You might have already picked up on faint rumblings about the formation of what could be called a "ratepayers association."It all happened quite innocently. Some folks met to discuss pushing for more walking paths and someone said, "Why stop there?" It’s nothing new — essentially, a volunteer board would act as unofficial town council to advocate on our behalf. They would work closely with our SCRD director to pursue and co-ordinate projects considered important to the vitality of our community.
The group’s mandate will likely be broad and that’s the point. Area A spans a large area but has a relatively small population base. It’s also geographically isolated from the population centres at the south end of the Sunshine Coast. Because of that, Area A has developed a certain self-sufficient pride when it comes to spearheading local inititiatives. But our reliance on overworked and aging volunteers is also one of Area A’s key vulnerabilities.
We’re lucky to be served by a sophisticated network of volunteer organizations but they are increasingly forced to contend with any number of levels of government and funding agencies to carry out their work. With over 50 local organizations working independently, the collective inefficiency strains resources and limits the scope of what might be achieved. And that’s what this group, whose working title is the "Pender Harbour Area Improvement Association," aims to remedy.
It’s been suggested a small portion of the tax assessments we already contribute to the SCRD could fund a part-time co-ordinator tasked with assisting with many of the festivals and other events held each year. These events require work often duplicated by other organizations. Procedures for dealing with details like acquiring liquor licenses, rental of sound equipment or the writing of press releases need not be reinvented every time. A liaison could assist in maintaining and promoting a volunteer database to help spread the workload. One could easily find dozens of examples of how such an umbrella organization could fortify the community.
There will be those who say we need to incorporate in order to address the community’s future needs. That may be true but we need to see a little more evidence in the form of a feasibility study first, and that’s a process that will take some time. Meanwhile, energies wouldn’t be wasted by tackling a list of projects with a unified voice. Ideally, SCRD staff would be recognized as an invaluable resource and both groups would discover mutual benefits in the relationship.
If it all seems utopian, it is. There will no doubt be disagreements and issues that divide the community in coming years and this group will be at the centre of it. They will have to put up with critics and whiners and folks who contribute nothing but resistance. But whatever form this advocacy group takes, it will rely on tremendous volunteer support from those who believe Pender Harbour is too precious to squander.