Who Owns This Town? Responses to New Dawn’s Public Meeting

When the money was announced for the harbour dredge I tweeted the following:

1965. (Today is the beginning of the closure of the container terminal.)

Referring of course to the year that marked the beginning of the end for the steel plant. I figure forty-odd years from now we’ll look back on the container terminal as just another relic from the fossil-fuel age. (A friend replied that since we’re living in a more environmentally friendly era, we’re bound not to make the same mistakes. I refer you to Alberta’s tar sands.)

I’ve already stated my ambivalence about the actual form any port development will take. But here’s the thing: however the port gets developed, the community should have the final say, and the community should be the primary beneficiary. For better or for worse, the community will have to deal with the consequences.

New Dawn — at an open community meeting last night — just goes that one step further and reminds us that self-determination is not a gift. It is a responsibility. If our right to self-determination is withheld, it must be taken back. But this is not to repeat the familiar refrain of victimhood. What we truly lack is not self-determination, but self-confidence.

For anyone who continues to doubt the community’s ability to determine its own future, have some faith: capacity, if and where it’s lacking, will come. But it requires us owning our resources — rather than having them liquidated — and then reinvesting the capital. In what? How about a diversified local economy? Imagine Creative Economies in arts & culture; Knowledge Economies in innovation and technology; Green-Collar Economies in agriculture and energy. Now we’re talking capacity.

No matter what happens, some of us won’t be happy with the results. That’s life. But we’re adults. We’ll deal. The distinguishing feature of an adult conversation is not that it resolves every contradiction, but that it contains them.

Below are some commentaries from friends who attended last night’s meeting.