Community Articles
Go to Site Index See "Community Articles" main page
General News · 27th February 2018
Richard Lawton
Seeing an APC meeting has been scheduled before the ink is dry on the Bylaw Questionaire, I have written this so that APC members can read it before the meeting.. I'll probably write more in depth about it later.

In the late '80's I purchased centrally located land at Manson's, hoping to help a community that didn't grasp its own economic reality.

Once upon a time Cortes had a balanced economy. What that means, in simple terms, is local earnings were roughly the same as the cost of living here.

Too much or too little income creates problems. When land prices escalated and earnings did not, Cortes could no longer support its own residents.

This has continued, uncorrected, ever since.

We now have a totally unstable society. Nearly all of the kids in school will be unable to live as adults in their own community. In fact the only financial stability is the fortunate few who were established before things went astray, and many of them live marginally, and people with off island income (retired and seasonal residents who work elsewhere in order to spend part of the year here). The rest (which is nearly half the population) is constantly changing. New people arrive with great hopes and dreams, and a few months or years later they are sadly leaving. We don't notice it because they are constantly being replaced.

For decades I tried to create awareness and public discussion of this problem. Each Bylaw or Official Community Plan update was an opportunity to heal our wounds. Innovative land use changes and innovative new earnings were desperately needed. It was easy to resolve when it began, but now it is extremely difficult.

It's no use "working towards" solutions that cannot get us to the top of the hill or we will never see the other side.

A tiny number of people sabotaged all of my attempts to create discussion. The game they played was to achieve a hidden position of influence where meetings, agendas and information could be manipulated, and it sure helps if you persuade a Regional Director to run for office, present yourself as an expert and maintain a cosy relationship. All sorts of doors can be opened and things changed without anyone knowing or suspecting.

The result is a lot like the "Deep State" that controls the United States. Most world governments are not run by elected people. This of course is the very opposite of democracy. It is the opposite of openness and honesty. On Cortes is it the opposite of everyone pulling together for our own benefit.

There were two separate influences that worked in harmony. One might be described as "old families" who were anxious to protect an outdated right to earn and rule. The other seeks to control us without our knowledge and has a fixation about urban density.

Influence can go astray if we are unqualified. Training for a profession involves a lot more than just the central subject. A chef, for example, must have a full knowledge of such things as health, diet and finances in addition to preparing food. A cook who pretends to be a chef might see nothing wrong with a thick layer of tainted caviar on a $3 hamburger.

In the same way, solutions to the housing and earning problems require a thorough understanding of social and economic realities on Cortes.

Any form of high density settlement (with the sole exception of seniors) is a fools game that squanders the many social and cost advantages of being a rural community.

And an "affordable" housing solution that drains someone else's wallet in order to artificially lower cost for a handful of families in a way that cannot be duplicated is worse than no solution at all.

Why? Because it will create false hope and divert energy and attention away from finding a real solution for the 10 leaving school each year and hundreds more who need a permanent solution.

After the OPC update failed to achieve anything of value I was so annoyed by decades of deliberate interference that I publish a series of ten weekly articles in the Cortes Marketer. It was called "The End of an Era" (of corruption) and it took most of the ten articles to describe (some of) what was happening in local politics. In case you missed it, a few examples: consultants were fed biased information and fired when they failed to convincingly portray it - steering committees did nothing but provide a useful smoke screen while committees that did make decisions were carefully screened to be sure members supported the agenda - meetings, agendas and public hearings were manipulated - public information was modified, deleted or outright vanished - and lots more.

Finally, after nearly two decades, the underhanded tricks stopped.

But the Bylaw Update Questionaire contains the same signature as the attempted manipulations during OCP review.

Rod Lee recently published a short article urging us to get involved because 'things are being discussed that may affect your property'.

I have given up trying to help a community that seems unwilling, and unable, to heal itself as you'll soon discover - but I have not given up observing and commenting if things go astray.

Cortes comes alive when petty issues get our attention. Oh, are we at our best on petty issues!

But the deeper, important issues require responsible thought and a need to put aside our self interest if we are to resolve them.

"If I had asked what they want they would have said faster horses" - Henry Ford.

I suspect we can do better.