By Art Martens
Lately there has been a deluge of attention-grabbing claims and accusations swirling about our usually quiet little community. It’s related to the “DO NOT CONSUME WATER” notification Hedley residents received a few weeks ago. Various media have been in town foraging for juicy tidbits of information, so probably many people in B.C. are well acquainted with what really should be little more than a tempest in a teapot.
The predominant complaint appears to be that the Hedley Improvement District (HID) didn’t provide timely notification that the water wasn’t safe. Linda and I did receive a phone call within hours after the HID was given the results of a water test. The next day a written notice was attached to our front door. I’ve heard that some homes did not receive the notification. For those who were missed, this could be deeply disturbing. At an HID meeting attended by a cross section of residents last Wednesday, Chairperson Lynn Wells said there had been some difficulty delivering notices due to locked gates, high fences with dogs in the yard and wind blowing notices away.
The disquiet on the part of some citizens has given rise to interesting speculation, even a conspiracy theory. It has been suggested HID Trustees have been siphoning funds from the community’s coffers. To grasp the logic of that one requires an Olympic level imagination. Three of the four Trustees are longterm residents. They have solid reputations which I’m sure they’d be loathe to endanger for the meager gleanings from our town’s purse.
Someone has argued we should sue the HID. One flaw in this idea is that we’d be suing ourselves. The suggestions bandied about to this time seem based largely on frustration, possibly also a desire to shame the HID into doing a better job.
Our perspective on events, including how community leaders deal with challenges and crises, will impact the quality of our relationships. It will determine whether we draw people together or arouse suspicion and cause divisions. George Lucas said, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
I wonder if people are aware that while a handful of critics have been vociferously venting their frustration and anger, Lynn Wells and fellow trustees have been in frequent contact with Interior Health, seeking guidance concerning how to proceed. One day Lynn drove to Kelowna with a water sample for testing, hoping to speed up the process.
She has demonstrated remarkable resilience. Some leaders would have thrown up their hands and said, “I don’t need this. I quit!” Lynn has stayed the course, seeking to rectify a difficult situation.
I’m reminded of Wayne Dyer’s words, “It’s never crowded along the extra mile.” Having been in leadership, I know how lonely it can be battling on behalf of my community. I also know how disappointing it is when critics stand on the sidelines, disparaging the efforts of those immersed in the fray on their behalf.
My concern is that some current HID members may not choose to continue after completing their term. At the end of her first term several years ago, Lynn Wells made it known she did not intend to carry on. No one else was available to step into the Chair role. The pleading of many people convinced her to stay in the game. After this spat and the attending barrage of personal attack, what are the odds she, or anyone else, will have the heart to serve in this $100 a year position?
I’ve lived in this community long enough to know there is a scarcity of credible, capable leadership candidates. Very few are willing. Anyone can criticize, but only a rare few will dare to lead.
Pointing fingers and seeking to affix blame isn’t likely to produce the outcome critics are hoping for. A more productive first step for all in our community might be to step back and take 3 deep breaths, then engage in a rational discussion of issues that need attention. Possibly the critics have ideas for a better approach next time. At the HID meeting Lynn Wells appealed for individuals with skills to join the Trustees in serving the community.
As we exit one year and prepare to enter another, it’s a good time for Hedley to develop productive approaches to community issues. When people with patience, ideas, imagination and good will work collaboratively, even the most thorny and divisive issues can be resolved.
Source:: Living Significantly