Who will win the mail-in public assent process now underway in Upper Clearwater?
Will it be Upper Clearwater Farmers Institute or “the other side?”
The answer is, none of the above.
The process will decide what will happen to the grant-in-aid that helps support Upper Clearwater Hall.
However, whether the grant-in-aid continues or not is relatively unimportant.
The big question is: What can be done to heal the divisions that have developed within the community of Upper Clearwater?
A hall is just a building but a community is, well, a community.
The pioneers who worked together to build the hall back in the 1930s knew that, living in the wilderness, they needed to be able to rely on their neighbours to help out in case of emergency.
That sense of community, of knowing and relying on your neighbours, is long gone in our cities.
One would hope, however, that it would have survived in our rural areas.
Apparently not, at least as far as Upper Clearwater is concerned.
As outlined in the article on page A1, those opposing the grant-in-aid have until noon on June 14 to convince 58 (50 per cent) of the landowners representing nearly $10 million (50 per cent) of the assessed value in the service area to send in petition forms saying they are opposed to continuing the grant-in-aid.
That’s a pretty tall order. The community appears to be pretty well evenly split on the question.
In the non-binding survey done earlier this year by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, 30 answered YES when asked if they wanted the grant-in-aid eliminated, versus 27 who said NO.
Now it appears that the decision will be up to the undecideds and the “I don’t participate’s”.
The public assent process being followed is the mirror image of the process used to bring in the grant-in-aid a number of years ago.
At that time, the proponents got several extensions in order to get enough petition forms sent in. They also obtained a list of those who had already sent in their forms, which allowed the proponents to visit and persuade those who had not.
The procedures have been tightened up since then and there probably will be no extensions and definitely will be no lists given out.
Although anything could happen, it appears that those wanting the grant-in-aid to continue therefore have the odds in their favor but, so what?
What is the advantage of having control of a community hall if half of the community won’t talk to you as a result?
There is also the matter of how this dispute is being perceived from outside the area.
Discussion at the TNRD board of directors in Kamloops compared it to the Hatfields and McCoys feud in the United States – not a positive image in this age of the Internet.
We’ve called before for mediation in the Upper Clearwater dispute before and we call for it again.
TNRD, provincial government and federal government have all put money into the hall.
Perhaps one of those levels of government could step in and find an outside mediator who is acceptable to all sides.