Bad decisions, shabby operational structures, faulty arguments and puffed up political posturing are a sure-fire way to rile up the people.
That’s been the story around these parts lately.
From the continuing saga surrounding Bashaw’s dealings with water, to Ponoka’s constant troubles encompassing a whole range of issues — the uproar from residents in both communities has been substantial regarding the inadequate planning and inferior handling of the issues and concerns.
Out east, people look back 13 years and are left to wonder why the council of the day would sign up for something that was never expected to materialize.
Then, when the water line was nearing reality, people were baffled by how the town could sell water to residents and the commission so cheap and also why the water revenue for years went into general revenue versus a reserve to pay for infrastructure.
Over near the QEII, residents have expressed disgust over the millions being spent (or mis-spent depending on who is talking) for a new building that some felt wasn’t needed, while others believe it could have been built elsewhere with less money going to private interests.
Then there is the eight years it has taken Ponoka — and still not figured out how — to deal with land annexed from the county. Only recently, the town started the process to place the land under its own land use bylaw, instead of the ambiguity of being regulated by the town and county.
Toss in the fact land development and potential sales of some of those parcels have gone down the sewer — which along with water service that isn’t there, both of which are major sticking points in the lack of growth in the area.
Follow that up with complaints about continued poor snow clearing management, the divisive topics of fire and garbage plus issues with the electric utility operation — if the wind blows too hard, the power goes — and it’s been a recipe for discontent.
That said, today’s discord is a lot louder and quicker to come to light due to two small words — social media.
Back in the day, those wanting to spout off either had to talk to their neighbours, write a letter to the newspaper or go to speak to their local politicians in person.
With the advent of various technology, that’s all changed.
Within seconds, someone can comment on any subject from anywhere after surfing through some websites or watching a live stream of a meeting.
Worse yet, posts on places like Facebook and Twitter seem to live on forever as people add their own take on things. That makes it extremely difficult to fight through the rhetoric, the disdainful slander, the arguments that go on forever and the outright fabrications in order to get to the truth.
There are many times something put online is as close to reality as unicorns handing out rainbows.
However, it would behoove any politician — municipal or otherwise — to not retaliate and provide the naysayers with further fuel for which to burn them with.
Calling out those that comment to essentially put up or shut up, by either being part of the process through public meeting or even running for office, is the perfect formula for inviting ‘trolls’ to take over the conversation. It’s like throwing a fist at a speed punching bag, then getting upset when it pops you in the head after you turn your back on it.
Avoiding that is rather simple — thinking first, then using common sense and facts as the basis of any statement, be it online or in person.
So, unlike some municipal issues, having a good plan is key to avoiding pitfalls.
But that is…just an observation.