I had a speech all set for tonight for the council meeting, but I don't think I am going to be able to make it, so I thought I would share any way.
I come here tonight as a mom, not a council geek, and not a resident who is worried about the future of our city. Just a mom, who stood in her kitchen this morning and told her 16 year old son that it was likely that Phase 2 of the Northside Rec plan would probably be halted by council tonight. And do you know what his reaction was, he said, "It's been so long now it doesn't matter anyway." And I answered that well, some day maybe his kids would use it, and to that he answered, "If I have kids I don't know if I want to raise them here at the rate things are going." It was like a punch in the gut, and I feel partially responsible.
You see when the municipality posted the online survey for the design of the Northside Rec, and held the engagement sessions, I encouraged our sons to participate. I told them that if they didn't participate, they wouldn't be heard, and that you can never get what you want if you don't speak up. I told them that their voice mattered. I told many residents in Fort McMurray the same thing the last few years, "get involved" I said, "make sure you vote" I said. And when they did participate, and engaged with this project they were loud and clear that they wanted this rec centre on the north side. There was no denying it at any level. But what has administration done? Killed it. And tonight, if council votes with the recommendation, they will not only kill a rec centre, they will further alienate the people of Fort McMurray.
Don't come asking me next week why people won't stay. Stop trying to figure out why they are mad. It's because they continue to not be heard by administration, and sadly by their representatives on council.
For years I have corrected people when they said that the current council wasted money on the weather catcher and the expropriation of the downtown core. I have patiently explained that it was last council that made those decisions. But if council votes to kill this project tonight, at the cost of well over $5.5 million, I will only pause and wonder at what they have accomplished during their time in office.
And how do I continue to try to get my children, and possible residents of Fort McMurray to engage, when tonight I am feeling so disillusioned myself?