Let’s Clear The Air

Letter to the Editor

After our Town Meeting on April 21 it was clear that there were some town folk who were upset with some of the letters I sent out after the February meeting. I would like to address why I sent those letters and why I signed them as I did.

Approximately twenty-five locals showed up for the February Town Meeting. At that meeting, various issues were discussed and Ole was the Chairman of the meeting. I volunteered to record the Minutes. Certain issues required letters to be sent out. With each issue, Ole asked those in attendance “does anyone have any objections?” or “does everyone agree with this?” When nobody objects to that question at a meeting, it is considered “unanimous consent”, and I made a note to take action on that issue. It was agreed that some issues would be put aside or not acted on as a significant number of people in the room did not want action on those issues. After the meeting, I typed up the Minutes and Ole, after checking them over, published them online at the Coco site.

The next day I proceeded to prepare letters for the issues I was asked to send letters about. I did not send one letter that was not discussed and that I was not asked to send. Upon typing the first letter, I realized we had not discussed HOW the letters were to be signed. Coalmont does not have a formal governing body. The meeting was just a collection of concerned citizens. If I had signed the letters just with my name, no one would take action. Bob and I have personally addressed traffic concerns to various companies in the past with no success. Brad Hope had told us he could not act on town issues without some mandate from the locals (which was the purpose of having the meeting). If I hadn’t signed the letters at all, obviously they would be tossed in the garbage. After some debating, Bob and I thought I could sign them Secretary (because I was the person who took the Minutes and who was typing the letters, which is typically the job of a secretary) of the Concerned Citizens of Coalmont because those in attendance were concerned about the town or they probably wouldn’t have come. I was not comfortable just signing “Town of Coalmont” because not everyone in Coalmont was at the meeting, nor do we have a town council, government, or voting structure. It made sense to me to sign the letters from Diane Sterne, Secretary, the Concerned Citizens of Coalmont.

An issue I noticed raised at the April meeting was questions as to “who made Ole the Chairman?” The answer is, no one made Ole the Chairman. The definition of “Chairman” in the dictionary is “one who presides over an assembly, committee, etc.” On April 21 we were having a Town Meeting or Town Assembly and someone was needed to “preside” over that meeting to give all the invited guests time to speak and make sure things ran smoothly. Everyone in town knew a meeting was planned (posters, the News Leader, the online Coco, and word of mouth), and anyone in town could have volunteered to “preside” over or “Chair” the meeting. As no one came forward and because Ole had worked so hard to research the sewage issues that were going to be discussed, it seemed only logical that he would Chair the meeting.

Another question raised at the meeting was “why wasn’t the developer invited?” Anyone in town could have invited the developer. The posters indicated who the invited guests were and his name was not on the list; so if someone had a concern about that, they absolutely could have invited him. We did not personally invite him because the issues raised were regarding the provincial legislation which had changed regarding the sewage laws. The developer has nothing to do with provincial legislation and personally I felt had he been invited, there would have been unfair mudslinging towards him when, in reality, he hasn’t done anything legally wrong. We obviously don’t agree with his plans for his property, but legally, he is well within his rights to do what he is doing. The purpose of the meeting was to haul the political and government officials onto the carpet who DO have something to do with the legislation and to let them face the people their legislation is threatening. The developer’s presence at the meeting could easily have changed the focus from the problems with the legislation to arguing over the development.

I strongly believe that Coalmont is the BEST town in the world to live and no one could ask for nicer neighbours than we have. Bob and I have always only intended to do things to HELP our community and would NEVER do, say or write anything that we thought was contrary to what people wanted. When we feel our community is being threatened, we want to be there to protect it. If I have offended anyone with my letters, I apologize deeply. I was doing what I believed was asked of me on a voluntary basis to try to better our community. We have not scheduled a follow up meeting after the April meeting because we were worried we had unintentionally “stepped on some toes”. If anyone would like to have another meeting, please organize one. Regarding the follow up of the issues I have sent to Brad, (I listed these on the Progress Report which was available at the April meeting) anyone wanting to follow up with Brad is encouraged to do so if they have issues on that list which they want to see dealt with.

Your Neighbour,
Diane Sterne