In recent weeks, there have been some hot debates surrounding a few local issues. Most recently, this week the issue of logging near Bridge Creek and Centennial Park has been a hot topic.
Conversations have often been explosive, especially once they hit social media. From there, it often gets further warped or further blown out of proportion. A big part of this is due to the information actually being used in the conversation is limited in scope and people becoming aware of something only after it’s happened or in progress.
That issue is really threefold: the media, the district and the public.
As the media, we have something to own up here. While at the 100 Mile Free Press we’ve done some stories on work underway in the community forest immediately adjacent to the private property being logged, we haven’t addressed logging on the private property until this week.
Secondly, the district could have done better in communicating what they were doing. Often, such as with the work in the community forest, the district will run an ad in the Free Press (and possibly elsewhere). In case of the work in the community forest, they ran such an ad four times; in case of the current project, such an ad ran just once, making it much easier to miss.
However, more significantly, if you’re someone who was ignorant to the project and suddenly saw logging going on, you might expect to find a public notice on their website under “Public Notices,” or more information under “News & Events.”
While there’s a release on the work in the community wood lot there, there’s no such thing for the work currently underway. In fact, “Public Notices” is empty altogether. It would be nice to be able to access past notices there.
We should be fair to the district here as well. Some have pointed to the discrepancy in the level of communication the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) provides compared to the District of 100 Mile House. This is a little like comparing apples to oranges. The CRD is substantially bigger both in population, area and tax base than 100 Mile. It has a full-time communications person. 100 Mile House does not. Perhaps that’s something that should be considered but that’s a discussion for another time (especially considering the cost etc. associated).
Lastly, the public itself plays a role here. From our experience, with the notable exception of meetings surrounding a potential pool or aquaplex, people (other than local media) don’t tend to show up to meetings. This isn’t entirely uncommon but there are districts where this level of civic engagement isn’t a rarity.