Asking the Right Questions

Letter to the Editor: re: Survey seeks visitors’ thoughts about Maffeo Sutton Park

By Staff Writer – Nanaimo News Bulletin
Published: July 05, 2012 8:00 AM

Let me be among the first to laud our Parks and Recreation Department and the lands and assets that it manages on our behalf, but…  I took the survey, and I just couldn’t stomach the cool aid.

What I mean by this is that there are a couple of hidden assumptions buried in the survey that really need to be brought to the surface before there can be any reasonable discussion.  One is that the park needs more improvements despite the fact that the “improvements” recently completed weren’t, at least in the minds of many, improvements, nor have they been in place long enough to really determine what else might need to be done.  It may, in fact, really be a dangling financial matter in which the phase 2 funds which have been held over are burning up in the pocket of the budget.

The other is the hidden suggestion that improvements are effectively free.  There is an extensive list of possible “improvements” for check-off in the survey and none of them show any cost at all.

This is the cool aid that governments all too often serve: 1) things need their services to get improved, and, 2) the costs of these services are ignored.  It’s a bit like a rich uncle taking kids to the candy store and asking them to pick whatever they would like.  What the kids don’t realize until it is too late is that it is not the rich uncle who will be picking up the bill, but rather the kids themselves.

If we are going to do more improvements to Maffeo Sutton Park, then let’s start by asking whether it needs more improvement at this time, not what improvements it needs, and if we decide it really does need more improvements, we need to see the estimated costs of those improvements and whether we can afford them.