Letter: Citizens need to get more involved

The Terrace B.C. senior housing survey and Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine marijuana bylaw raise a number of issues for me...

Two current public surveys – the City of Terrace’s senior housing survey and  the regional district’s need for feedback on its proposed marijuana bylaw – raise a number of issues for me though by the time a bylaw is finalized I may no longer be under its jurisdiction.

Turnout at the regional district’s  public hearing may have been sparse because many residents were out of town at that time of year. As for letting citizens know about the dates for these hearings, even though the dates were published four times, how many readers pay attention to announcements of government hearings, proposed rezoning and such? Nor do roadside announcements posted near the fire hall attract notice if they are left up for days following  meetings.

Specifically what does 150 metres look like? A block long? Two blocks? An RCMP accident re-constructionist might be able to eyeball such a distance, but I have no idea how far away 150 metres would be from a school or other dwelling, thus I can’t judge whether that distance is appropriate – sufficient or extravagant. Neither am I about to measure it with my 10-foot tape.

The second survey that concerns me is being conducted by the Greater Terrace Healthy Communities Committee, co-chaired by the City of Terrace and Northern Health, “to gain insight into residents’ experience with healthy aging”. The survey targets residents over 50 for their prospective future housing situations.

Two days after the survey was announced in this newspaper, I had reason to visit the Park Avenue medical building where I asked for a copy of the printed survey at two doctors’ offices, Third Floor reception, Life Labs, and Shoppers. Not one had heard of the city’s survey. (Neither had the public library.) Not one of them had a copy to give me though the newspaper article led me to expect to be able to pick up a survey from any one of them.

I was taken aback. As lackadaisical as the public often is about surveys, I would expect the sooner copies were available, the better the response the city might get.

Disappointed no one had heard of the survey, I walked to the Happy Gang Centre and arrived seconds after the city dropped off a handful of survey forms.

Aside from the rudimentary survey questions which appear geared more toward learning which businesses seniors might patronize rather than their prospective future housing needs, if the city hopes for a robust survey response I would suggest repeat advertisement of the survey’s availability including where a printed copy can be picked up.

Exactly how to best let citizens know of the survey, I can’t say. As far back as the l980s I recall the school board experiencing the same unaware citizenry despite attempts to reach out in various ways.

My main criticism of the survey is its broad questions with scant opportunity to qualify replies.

For some reason I was reminded of the joke about the fellow who suffered a major accident to his hands. After treatment the doctor told him, “The good news is you’ll be able to play the piano.”

The patient said, “That’s interesting. I never could before.”

To truly grasp the area’s accessibility, city councillors should try shadowing a disabled person for a week. Not a few hours. A week.

Experience entering from the back alley like a freight  shipment while someone holds open the heavy door for your wheelchair. Switch dentists because you cannot access the renovated office. Book appointments to fit HandyDart’s busy schedule.

Kalum Kabs’ wheelchair accessible taxi is a boon to disabled locals with its spontaneous flexibility.

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