Public participation into the Rocky View County Plan: a right or a privilege?
Democracy is dependent on two significant components: shared quality information and the active participation of all who are affected.
Public participation is an opportunity for both to occur and, when it does, the quality of decisions is improved for everyone. Whether it is a municipality, community, special interest group or a developer as proponents of projects, it is imperative that an extensive public participation be initiated.
There are many reasons why people do not actively participate in the public engagement process such as:
- The sense that the project is already a done deal;
- The feeling that the reason for the public participation is a mandatory action rather than a voluntary one;
- The opinion that one voice cannot make any difference in the grand scheme of things;
- The anxiety that is caused by the lack of time because the project must keep moving on;
- Past experiences that were negative in the public participation process; and
- The sense of frustration that may come when a person does not feel adequately understood.
All of the above six feelings about public participation may be true and there are probably even more reasons to not participate. However, the lack of participation often allows a very few people to dictate a direction that the majority would not willingly endorse
Lets identify some positive aspects about public participation and what it could achieve such as:
- You receive information which you previously did not have;
- Your single suggestion for the project is seen as an improvement and even incorporated into a revised plan;
- You feel heard and understood;
- A sense of fulfillment is experienced by the participant[ant based on making a contribution for a better community;
- An opportunity to spread the good word to your neighbors about a very engaging public process, and
- Finally, an encouragement to continue as an active participant in future public engagement processes.
Public engagement is vital part of democracy and the quality of life we enjoy in Rocky View County. It is both a right and a privilege but the choice to participate or not is always yours.
Choose wisely. We hope you will get involved in the review of the County Plan.