COLUMN: The answer must be ‘no’ on this issue

The ‘X’ was made in the appropriate circle, the three envelopes stuffed and sealed, and today my vote on the HST hits the post office – governance by referendum.

The ‘X’ was made in the appropriate circle, the three envelopes stuffed and sealed, and today my vote on the HST hits the post office – governance by referendum.

We like to call ourselves Hollywood North, but bringing in “initiatives” to determine the direction of government is a little too “California” for me, knowing where that state has gone on the economic front these days.

Referenda, propositions and initiatives are all worthy pieces of a democracy, and on many fronts put more power into the hands of the people. They also result in emotional decisions that over the long-term can cripple the system and services we have come to expect and demand.

The argument against referenda on most topics is that, every four years we hold the ultimate political referendum – an election. Don’t like what the bums did, toss ’em out; like their positions, return them to office.

While that seems to be the most acceptable, and fair, way to run things, the true reality is that it is the bureaucrats who make the decisions, and hold enduring power.

Granted, most of those in high positions within government bureaucracy are highly skilled, understand the impact of their conclusions and recommendations, and operate fully within the mandate given them by our parliamentary system.

And since there are so many, many things that happen on a daily basis it would be impossible for “our representatives”, our politicians, to have a hand in most of those rulings. In fact, often it is not even possible, save for an “emergency”, that politicians even get involved in decisions that can have lasting effect.

Take, for example, the large mine that is proposed for the upper reaches of Sumas Mountain. Its lifespan is 100 years. Its development would eliminate, for a century, access to literally thousands of acres of soon-to-be-in-demand parkland in the heart of the Fraser Valley, which will be home for the majority of the million plus people expected to move to B.C. over the next 20 years.

The only access/egress route for the new mine would be through the middle of what is known on the mountain as Straiton Bowl. Abbotsford’s growth potential, its ability to house many of those million people due to arrive, is stopped by the Agricultural Land Reserve except on Sumas Mountain. It is the only area remaining that is, and will be, able to accommodate more homes, more people.

And the mine would create an industrial highway directly through the center of that large residential area, crippling development and urban expansion in the area for at least 100 years.

That would not be in the long-term best interest of Abbotsford, or the economic future of the province, period.

That factor however, may not be taken into account by those within the bureaucracy who have the mandate to make decisions, which are often specific only to the ministry in which they work.

Their job is to ensure land dispositions meet certain criteria, or mine proposals meet standards specific to mining.

The long-term cause and effect, especially if it is not strongly pointed out, may not be considered at all.

And that would be a travesty, for the impact of anything that will effect people or a community for 100 years or more must be carefully and deliberately considered, and in this case rejected. Our future is at stake.

Yes there are mines on this mountain. However, all are on private lands, and all of which will probably be long depleted and closed before this mountain’s residential potential is exploited.

This new proposal is on crown land, so in essence we would be giving up what is “ours”, to severely impact “our” growth over the next century.

In the best interest of future residents and the inevitable huge increase in population of our city in the only place possible for it to go, this is a decision that requires political intervention of the highest order.

Because I can assure you, that if a referendum was held on this issue, the outcome would be a resounding “No”.

markrushton@abbynews.com