Well-Armed Lambs!

I recently came across a quote by Benjamin Franklin -- "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.   Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

While it made me chuckle it also made me think. 

It made me think that at times it has felt like citizens were the "lamb" and councils and developers the wolves.

It also substantiated my belief that in order to be "well-armed lambs contesting the vote" citizens would be well-served by a Citizen's Initiated Referendum Bylaw.

So what is a Citizen Initiated Referendum Bylaw (also known as a Municipal Constitution Bylaw).  Simply put it is a bylaw that offers citizens the opportunity to take an issue to a referendum.  

For instance -  over 2000 Nelson citizen's signed a petition a few years ago asking City Council to buy the former VSA lands by Walmart.  Council could, and did, ignore it.  With a Citizen's Initiated Referendum this could not happen.    

Another example - the purchase of the White Building.  If citizen's secured the required number of signatures (in Rossland they chose 20% of the electorate) the entire community would have an opportunity to vote.  To affirm Council's decision or not.  

Critics try to dismiss this process by leading you to believe that petitions are politically motivated and that they highjack the democratic process.    

The reality is that the strength of the bylaw is that it forces City Council to be good communicators -- to communicate more effectively.  If Council does it's job they have no reason to fear a petition.   

City Council candidates will tell you what you want to hear at election time.  I encourage you to look for those that "walk their talk" and who have no concerns or fears about empowering citizens.