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EDITORIAL: Tell the City of Castlegar what you think — the right way

Say what you think now, or don’t complain later as the city updates Official Community Plan

The most common refrains we hear on the Castlegar News Facebook page in relation to City of Castlegar decisions are comments along the lines of “they don’t care what people think” or “they don’t listen to what people say.”

As someone who has sat through or watched almost every single city council meeting for the past eight years, I think the sentiment is simply not true.

Rather, I think the problem is that city’s residents don’t let the decision makers know what they think in the right way or at the right time.

Online complaints after-the-fact don’t accomplish anything except filling up social media pages.

Opinions expressed on online platforms, other than those associated with the city or its elected officials, don’t do much good either. City staff and councilors don’t have time to sift through a myriad of personal and bulletin-board style pages to see what people might be saying.

The time to express your preferences is before the decisions are made. The place to express your preferences is directly to the city — in person, through surveys, on the city’s Facebook page or by email.

The City of Castlegar says it typically only hears from about five per cent of residents when it seeks public input regarding community planning.

I’ve attended public hearings and budget presentations where less than five people have showed up for the meeting, and I have been to several where not a single person showed up. This wasn’t due to a lack of advertising or lack of communication, it was due to a lack of citizen involvement.

Right now, Castlegar residents have the opportunity to tell the city what they think as the city does a major refresh on its Official Community Plan. The final document will guide decisions for the next 10 years or more.

Every house in Castlegar should have received a Castlegar Plan Workbook by now, if you didn’t receive one, copies are available at City Hall. An online version is also available at

Around 600 people have already submitted responses and city representatives have spoken to several hundred people at in-person sessions in recent weeks.

The deadline for submissions is the end of May.

Make sure that the city hears from you now and in the future — fill out the survey, send in a letter, show up at a council meeting, attend a public hearing, go to a budget workshop or open house.

On Monday, about 50 local seniors showed up to city council’s committee of the whole meeting. Their spokesperson gave a passionate presentation on the need for senior’s housing. City council heard them loud and clear. This is how you effectively let the decision makers know how you feel.

If you don’t speak your mind in the right place and at the right time — you really don’t have much right to complain after the fact.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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