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Council swayed by social media campaign

Staff recommended that the TUP extension be denied.

Council swayed by social media campaign

On Oct. 21, 2020 there was a municipal council meeting that debated, at length, the merits of extending a Temporary Use Permit (TUP00022, item 9.1) for a business on Lakes Road. Prior to the meeting, staff performed their due diligence researching the subject; they found that the proprietors of the business had not met the spirit or requirements of the conditions laid out in the original TUP. Staff recommended that the TUP extension be denied.

As part of council’s responsibilities and commitment to their office, council debated the application for the extension of the TUP. Council chose to ignore the staff recommendations citing COVID as an excuse for the proprietors of the business not meeting the conditions stipulated in the original TUP (occupancy permits, etc.). The proprietors had 18 months between the granting of the original TUP to when the COVID pandemic descended upon us all; they had plenty of time to fulfill their commitments to the process. Although I do not agree with the council’s flawed assessment and decision, I accept it as part of the council’s elected responsibilities.

There has been a social media flurry in the past few days from the proprietor of the business appealing to the community through social media. The posts suggest that the council’s decisions were going to effectively bankrupt the business. The rhetoric and emotion of social media seem to be guiding the decision versus fact and process. Fact: the terms and conditions of the Temporary Use Permit (TUP00022) originally granted have not been followed and the recommendation from the North Cowichan planning department was to deny an extension.

I ask members of council to reflect on the dangerous abuses of social media in the fiefdom south of our border prior to considering any amendment to their decision. Facebook and other social media outlets cannot replace the processes, norms, OCP, and laws that we have developed to function as a civilized society. As described in the council debate, about 50 per cent of the adjoining neighbours’ properties complained about the lack of non-compliance with the covenants in the original TUP. The proprietor’s lack of action in not meeting their commitments and conditions attached to the original TUP, combined with their social media attacks, whining, and complaining is a familiar tactic. You only need to be remotely cognisant of the circus south of us to know that social media should not be a trusted source of information, and cannot replace the recommendations of career staff members, processes, norms, OCP, and laws. Governing by social media is inherently dangerous, please consider the source of information carefully when you debate and make your decisions.

Craig Senych

North Cowichan

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