Dec. 5, 2017

City Hall

A bit of positivity would not hurt Nanaimo right now

By Merv Unger
Dec. 5, 2017

The city’s well-intentioned creation of a Facebook page where citizens could sound off turned out to be what was intended.

In politics we hear buzz words like “transparency” and “openness” and “accountability”. This was an attempt to do exactly whatever those words of phrases are supposed to represent.

The problem was the lack of supervision and/or control of comments from the public. Although the majority may be constructive all you have to do is take a quick glance to notice some of the moronic, imbecilic and vulgar comments some people feel compelled to post. Most of them make it personal, somehow believing that insults are part of the game.

As a friend of mine used to say, "Come and tell me to my face."

When this first surfaced I posted a note on one of the local Facebook sites suggesting that the city did not belong on this platform for exactly that reason. Of course the personal insults flowed freely.

Facebook is not a professional commentary and discussion site. It’s where people go to show pictures of their pets or their grandchildren, not a place for serious discussion. Besides, if you want an idea of what the public pulse is like, there are local civic commentary pages (A Better Nanaimo comes to mind). And even that one is moderated to maintain decency.

The city needs to have a public information distribution process on the official city website, and then needs to promote that site so the public goes there regularly.

All the best of intentions are not necessarily constructive. Direct contact with councillors by email or telephone is still the best way to conduct business, even though some of them don’t respond. That alone gives you and idea of their dedication or lack thereof.

And it wouldn’t hurt if councillors and senior staff co-operated with the news media. They might be surprised how the picture would become much more focused. A little bit of positivity would not hurt right now.

To comment, please email merv.unger@nanaimonet.com