Monday, May 25, 2009

Pen Meets Paper, May 25, 2009

Opinion by Helge Nome
There is an issue with meandering rivers in Alberta which brings to the fore some troubling developments in society at large. While rivers do what they have always done during floods: carve new channels wherever there is least resistance against floodwaters, the same can not be said about governments and the supporting bureaucracy. When there is a crisis of some kind, like that of a river threatening “to come into town”, as is the case in Sundre at this time, there are all of a sudden any number of obstacles to getting any kind of action. It is not a question of money, it is rather a problem of a whole string of bureaucrats getting their acts together and issuing the required permits.
At the River Rally in Sundre this last Sunday, Paddy Munroe from that community noted that some thirty years ago a similar problem upstream from Sundre was quickly fixed with blessings and funding from the provincial government of the day. Not so this time: Some ½ dozen departments are involved including the Canadian Coast Guard?! Are we dealing with the Pirates of the Red Deer River?
And this is not something that is confined to control issues of rivers. Anybody who wants to do anything these days will run into one or more bureaucrats on the way, each one of whom has his, or her, ideas as to how things should be done.
Like everybody else, they would like to rule the roost and the balance of power has swung in their direction in the last few decades to the point where elected politicians have become puppies that squabble among themselves but follow the mama dog (bureaucrats) around. I have noticed this trend at all levels of government, from municipal to federal. For example, the Stelmach puppies don't believe that rivers should be interfered with because their environmental “experts” have told them so. And these experts have listened to university professors telling them that rivers do what rivers are going to do. End of story.
What our politicians don't seem to understand is that if you make land available to people for settlement and collect an income from this, you also have a responsibility to the new owners of that land and protect to them from the vagaries of nature. We try to stop a wildfire from destroying a person's home and property. Why wouldn't we do the same if a river runs wild?

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