Reading our local paper the last couple of weeks has reminded me that Harrison Hot Springs, filled with an abundance of various characters, has two very different kinds of people that stand out most come election time: those working to build, improve and create and those focused on criticizing and complaining. As someone who has volunteered in Harrison for the last 12 years for a variety of organisations this is something you see over and over. A small group of people, most times the same people, volunteering their time and energy for events, fund raisers, community groups, PACs and other community activities, and another group busy with criticising and complaining. Unfortunately it’s the way of the world and while I don’t like it I do what positive things I can and move on.
Unfortunately with election time things get a little more mean spirited. Ruth Altendorf, one of Harrison’s great volunteers, brings a positive attitude and smile to all she does. She writes an Observer column and several weeks back gave an opinion that simply pointed out that many of the projects completed under one Council were started by the previous Council. She also pointed out that this Council like most Councils did their best to move Harrison forward. That brought out the pens of those that don’t like this Council and whom felt compelled to present their own version of the facts. That’s all fine but letters criticising Ruth chastised her for having an opinion without attending Council meetings. That is absolute rubbish. As someone who does attend Council meetings I know there are a variety of ways to stay on top of what’s happening in Harrison and attending Council meetings is only one. Reading Council minutes, bylaw amendments, etc or talking with Village staff are equally effective.
Public debate on issues is to be encouraged. It’s fine to have a different opinion or interpret the facts differently but why can’t people stay away from attacking people’s character and criticizing the person? We have already lost Dave Harris, one of the hardest working and dedicated Councillors we had because of this kind of negativity and a small community like Harrison can’t afford to lose more public spirited community builders.