In search of a straight answer

Ken Partridge
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From the Editor

I like straight answers. A simple yes or no is always preferable to long rambling explanations that beat around the bush before coming to the point.

I like straight answers. A simple yes or no is always preferable to long rambling explanations that beat around the bush before coming to the point.

Of course, I realize there are times when a bit of context or explanation is needed in order to better understand where an answer is coming from and why it is either yes or no. That’s to be expected and, in some cases, appreciated.

What I have never been able to appreciate is the need for some people, especially politicians, to go to sometimes unbelievable lengths to avoid giving a straight answer. It seems they have had the words yes or no surgically removed from their vocabularies and so must engage in run-on sentences and circuitous rambling in order to respond to even the simplest of questions.

If we are seeking reasons for declining voter participation and increasing cynicism regarding our political system, I think we need look no further than this distressing trend. Perhaps it’s the influence of lawyers, constantly warning our elected representatives to avoid saying anything that could be construed as a commitment so that everything can be denied if it ends up in court. Since it’s the lawyers who benefit from legal action, following their advice on how to eliminate it seems to me a little like asking the fox for advice on how to keep him out of the hen house.

If people believed they could get a straight answer from their politicians, it might go a long way to restoring confidence and getting people engaged again in the political process. Instead, all we usually get is more confused.

So why do I have a bee in my bonnet about truth in politics this month? It’s mainly due to the efforts of the Halifax North West Trails Association (HNWTA). Since becoming aware of the association’s efforts to protect a small area of land behind Kent Building Supplies in Bayers Lake Business Park, I have been following their efforts and the progress of the sale of the land in question to BANC Developments.

HRM is currently in the process of finalizing a land sale agreement with BANC that would see the developer acquire 70 hectares of the remaining land in Bayers Lake for retail development. As part of this deal, a portion of the land would remain in HRM’s hands for use as a secondary entrance to the planned Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park and Wilderness Area.

The HNWTA is hoping to increase this entrance point by adding the additional block of land they are seeking to protect. Since this issue directly affects the future of Bayers Lake, I have pursued it with HRM staff and members of council on several occasions. As you may have guessed from the opening of this piece, I have yet to get a straight answer about it.

I understand that due diligence has to be done before the city can say definitively yes or no this additional lands will be included or excluded from the deal, so I have avoided asking that specific question. Instead I have asked instead if the protection of this addition block is even being considered.

On the record, the closest I have received to an answer is that staff is looking at all aspects of the project, including environmental issues. Hardly a straight answer since they would be required to do that anyway.

More telling are comments I have had directed my way after the notebook has closed. These, plus the fact no straight answer is forthcoming, lead me to believe the efforts of the HNWTA will ultimately be unsuccessful.

• Correction

The October 2011 edition of The Burnside News, under the headline “Councillors, HNWTA at odds over park protection,” wrongly made reference to possible political aspirations of Bruce E. Smith. Mr. Smith, a member of the Halifax North West Trails Association, has confirmed to this paper that this is not the case. The Burnside News wishes to apologize to Mr. Smith for the inaccuracy and for any repercussions it may have caused. We retract the comments wholeheartedly.

Organizations: Halifax North West Trails Association, Kent Building Supplies, The Burnside News

Geographic location: Bayers Lake, Business Park, Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park Wilderness Area

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