** Editors Note: An earlier version of this Dunvegan article incorrectly attributed the second quote to Cllr Phil Meagher. That attribution was in error, that quote also belonged to Cllr. Mike Allen. The correction has been made and we regret any confusion this error may have caused.
The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. There is no correct solution. The only person to defeat it, was James T. Kirk, who reprogrammed the scenario into one he could win. He cheated.
We saw at the special ‘Dunvegan’ meeting of RMWB Council on Tuesday night, the Kobayashi Maru of municipal politics. And there was much to be proud of in how our Mayor, council, administration and all players handled the classic ‘no win’ situation.
“We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t.”
– Councillor Mike Allen
Right you are Councillor Allen. With that thought early on, a theme was set for the evening debating rezoning for Dunvegan Gardens.
Mayor Don Scott asked all the right questions regarding the original request and resulting by-law. Fairly quickly, he poked and prodded legal counsel and zoning folks to determine that the by-law, as sitting before them, was in fact illegal. Passing it, if council had done so, likely would have left them in violation of the Municipal Governance Act, exposed to potential charges, and likely would have resulted in the by-law failing or being invalidated; anyone who voted in favor of it facing consequences up to and including removal from office. And this is not hypothetical, it’s happened in Alberta in recent memory.
Simply put, you cannot pass a law that itself, breaks the law.
There’s no way to do so, especially so when the law being broken is outside your control at the municipal level. However, Mayor Scott wasn’t going to give up easily and we congratulate him for his efforts. He tried several creative approaches and while they didn’t succeed, we hope they conveyed to Dunvegan how much our residents love what they offer. We’re not sure if that was the Mayor’s other hopeful goal, but we’re guessing it might have been on his list.
After the original motion was defeated in a vote that nobody could predict til it happened, Mayor Scott then immediately originated a new motion, which had strict provisions for Dunvegan’s business operations. It was clear from his comments, and those of Councillor Meagher, they hoped that continuing the dialog with all parties, might help all to discover a path forward. We don’t believe for a moment either Mayor Scott or Councillor Meagher believed the motion as presented, was much different from the one that had just failed. But we’re confident they both had hope it might lead somewhere.
As council broke for 10 minute recess to hear advice from their team(s), we reviewed and read over Mayor Scott’s proposed motion. Ultimately, despite his best efforts, this would not be the answer. As a lawyer himself, we are confident the Mayor full-well knew that, but he had hoped the effort, the trying, the dialog, that through those steps, they might find a compromise.
However, ultimately, are we governed by laws as written or not?
Do zoning laws and by-laws have merit and should they be enforced? Or are they merely suggestions and guidelines we should be free to ignore? The answers to those questions are very critical for all of us. Because we could not engineer this situation to favor our proposed response, like Captain Kirk.
AND, this is not Star Trek and dashing though he may be, Don Scott is our mayor. He is not a fictional Starfleet Captain, who promises all the answers, even if he has to cheat to find them. We expect our Mayor to stay within the confines of the law and find the answers honestly, and through hard work. Thank you for the trying exactly that Mayor Scott. We all can feel proud of your efforts. Please never give up that passion for our residents and our community. And know this was NOT your loss, you didn’t create this mess, but guess what? You are now the Mayor whose very actions have led to the mess being cleaned up.
And this is why council, had no choice but to vote as they did.
To do otherwise would have mired the city and the individual Councillors themselves in a legal quandary that would not have been good for any of us. And it would have rendered the zoning laws that protect us all, by putting things in their proper place, moot, impotent, and ineffective. We cannot get behind any decision that would have resulted in that outcome.
“Often what is right is not popular and what is popular is not right.”
– Councillor Mike Allen **
Right you are again Mike.
We were pleased to see the business of government work as it should. And when it appeared, just before a vote, government might be led astray, a passionate and deadly-accurate plea from rookie Councillor Verna Murphy reminded all of the civic duty they each bear responsibility to; and in part, that duty to uphold and honor the laws of our region. We commend her too for chiming in at just the right moment to bring the necessary votes to prevent a municipal crisis. An infringement upon the rights of even one resident in Draper, is an infringement on the rights of all residents of the RMWB. Maybe not this week, or this month even, but once the slippery slope has been embarked upon, where does it end?
We elected these folks to make the tough decisions.
Tonight they decided the most difficult decision that, at least two previous administrations continuously punted. Acting where others have failed? That is real governance.
Remember earlier this year? This same council made the difficult decisions and saved many millions of dollars in our annual budgeting process. That is real governance.
We salute a Mayor brave enough to try everything in an effort to find a way forward. That is real governance. We hope he sees this as a victory for his gentle touch and risk acceptance. We do. It’s refreshing from the office of the Mayor vs. the stage-managed votes and debates of previous administrations. Don’t be afraid to show us the messy business of governing. It’s important we see as much of it as we can.
We praise the restraint of the residents of Draper who were wrongfully ignored by previous administrations; frustrated in their attempts to have the zoning laws enforced as they should be. Draper residents were made to feel as if they were the crazy ones in this situation by times. That was wrong, we apologize to them on behalf of those who cannot or will not, due to legal proceedings.
That was wrong and it should not have happened.
And for Mr. Freisen, we too feel his pain and appreciate the many things he and his business have afforded our residents, adults and children alike. He is one hell of entrepreneur, and, one that we hope we can collectively convince has a bright, bright future in our community. Brad, we apologize to you for how poorly this was handled from the beginning by those we elected. This too was wrong.
Previous admins led the business astray of the law. A law that our Mayor and council cannot amend, it is outside their bailiwick. Much like the Wicked Witch of the West while visiting the East, they hold no powers in this area. We feel it was wise of them to stop just short of trying to find some, in an overreach.
We can’t approve of government overreach either.
Now, we have a choice as a community. . .
We can choose to penalize those who made the right decision, according to all the very best advice they were given. We can continue to fight with each other, divide ourselves, call names, and fight along lines of passionate defense or offense. We can hold grudges against the other side, against perceived slights, real and imagined, grumble over the outcome and pursue court-actions for years to come.
What lesson does that teach our children? We prefer a different lesson, that Brad and his team have taught us, that even in the moments of feeling like there can be no sunshine ever again, there exists opportunity that’s often hard to see.
Like an easter egg hidden in flowers, or Halloween candy sprinkled in grass.
We are confident an application to re-open commercial activities at his former Gregoire location, for example, would sail through planning and advisory with lightning-fast approval. And if it was close, why wouldn’t you stop in more frequently?
Ask yourself, was it really the goats?
Or maybe, it was the enthusiasm and positive vibes that Brad and his team brought to each event or activity that ultimately attracted you, your kids and your family?
Sure, goats are great, but we think Brad and his team are far, far greater factors in the equation that created his business.
Reach out today, Team Dunvegan could REALLY use it today we bet.
Tell DVG your support will remain, no matter where, in our fine city, they hang their shingle. We all make mistakes or don’t have things go our way. It certainly has happened to us. How do you handle that?
Handling adversity in a mature way, with respect and finding a path forward for all?
THAT seems like a pretty solid thing to teach our children.
Instead let’s show those alternatives are possible; opportunities exist for all.
Maybe consider sending your councillor a note, and thank them for the time they’ve invested in learning all the laws and rules and history to make an informed decision on all matters before them. One recent meeting had over 2,000 pages of material for them to read, learn and study. It’s easy to arm-chair-quarterback our Mayor and council when their decision doesn’t align with our wishes.
It’s been repeated by all for a while now “How can there be any winners in this mess?” – there can be if we all learn from it, if we all work consciously not to vilify and condemn, but seek opportunity and growth in unlikely places. Truly a teachable moment for us all.
We wanna see Dunvegan Gardens grow
Please, help us prove to DVG that they can do that via opportunities that are sometimes hidden from view, just now; exactly like eggs or halloween candy, hidden among flowers or grass.
Dunvegan Gardens – Promise your Support
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Website – http://dunvegangardensfm.com/
Phone – 780-791-4363