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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

OLSEN – I haven’t forgotten feelings of helplessness as a provincial minister or senior bureaucrat coldly stated they couldn’t help us, even though their legislation created the situation needing a solution

On my morning walk I got to thinking back to my decision to resign from the Central Saanich Council table to run in the 2013 Provincial election for the BC Greens.

The decision to resign was triggered by one of my colleagues, who moved out of the country, and the reality that the District needed to hold a by-election. This allowed me to be clear with my constituents what my intention was. However, my decision to run was a lot more to do with my experience of the relationship between the provincial and local governments.

It was frustrating to thoughtfully develop priorities and community objectives, and then have to chase conditional grants on non-priority areas -- just so we could fulfill the provincial government’s priority.

In addition, we were constantly shouldering more of the weight from federal and provincial downloads.

I remember that experience even all these seven years later.

This post is to plant that flag. I have not forgotten those feelings of helplessness as a provincial minister or senior bureaucrat coldly states that they can’t help us with this, or with that, even though it’s their legislation that creates the situation needing to be solved. What they are really telling you is that you are not their priority.

Embracing governance not politics

I was talking with one of my neighbours heading into the 2011 municipal elections and glibly said, “maybe we should just develop a strategic plan that mirrors the provincial government’s objectives.” In other words, the current system we maintain forces us into the politics rather than good governance.

I’ve worked on many provincial issues since my election as an MLA. With the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ (UBCM)annual convention, a week away, I’m checking in. While I am very close to my local government colleagues in Saanich North and the Islands, I look forward to reconnecting with mayors and councillors from around the province. We have fully booked meeting schedules.

The relationship between governments has not changed much -- we face growing challenges with climate change, with the infrastructure deficit burdening most communities and the increasingly poor provincial resource management that is deeply impacting communities traditionally dependent on those resources.

The province is going to need to reach the hand out and invite more collaboration, rather than continue the top-down decision-making that inspired me to run provincially all those years ago.

Adam Olsen ... is a Green Party Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for Saanich North and the Islands. Born in Victoria, BC in 1976, Adam has lived, worked and played his entire life on the Saanich Peninsula. He is a member of Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP), where he and his wife, Emily, are raising their two children, Silas and Ella.


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