Maybe it’s time you caught up with the times

Arthur Topham responses to slam from Ab and Mary McQuillin's letter


Re: Put up or shut up, Observer, Dec. 7, 2011.

Such a blatant and catchy heading as “Put up or shut up” certainly demands a response to Ab and Mary McQuillin’s Dec. 7 letter in your newspaper.

Apart from the McQuillin’s rather rude and crude attack upon my person and my literary contributions to furthering community dialogue over the past 35 years they did bring up an important issue that I believe is dear to the hearts and pocket books of many others like myself who live outside the political boundaries that define the “city” of Quesnel or, as Mayor Mary loves to proclaim at every opportunity, “the corporation.”

While I appreciate the McQuillin’s invitation to “move to town and vote” (especially when I become frustrated with the lack of high speed internet in the rural areas), I don’t think that it’s warranted.

No city or town of any size is an island unto itself and this especially holds true in the case of Quesnel.

From its nascent beginnings it has always been dependent for its economic survival upon first the placer miners and then the ranchers and farmers and loggers, all of whom, for the most part, resided outside city limits.

In this regard Ab and Mary’s city might appropriately be comparable to what is known as a host-parasite relationship; Quesnel of course being the parasite which feeds upon the surrounding rural areas in order to sustain its own otherwise precarious economic existence.

The McQuillins are quite correct in stating that because I live outside the limits of the city that I cannot vote for those who run. But they are, of course, overlooking the fact that those they elect for such jobs (Mayor and Council) do not have to reside in the city in order to fill these positions. That, in essence, is part of the conundrum faced by the majority of residents who make up the “host” aspect of this political relationship.

Currently on council we have members who live outside the corporation of Quesnel.

Councillor John Brisco comes to mind and in the case of Councillor Roodenburg I believe she also has lived in Richbar throughout her last tenure on council. The recent mayoral candidate Ron Craigmyle also lives outside Quesnel proper.

Then of course there is former city councillor Peter Couldwell who sat on Quesnel City Council for 21 years yet lives way out west of town on the Blackwater Road. Being that far away he was out of both the City tax catchment area as well as the Sub Regional Recreational area and thus never was financially ‘taxed’ by any decisions that he voted on affecting either of the McQuillins.

I could go back further still and mention former Mayor Steve Wallace who also did not reside within the city yet played a vital role in decisions that are still controversial today for many municipal taxpayers.

Another relevant point overlooked by Ab and Mary is the fact that either of them, in turn, could legally run for the position of Regional Director for CRD Area C, the area surrounding Cottonwood where I live, and they do not have to be living in the area to do so.

Finally, as for running for city council, if the McQuillins were more aware of their own city’s history they would already know that I have in the past ran for council as well as for the provincial MLA’s position. So it’s a case of “been there done that.”

Maybe it’s time for the McQuillins to “catch up” with the times or else “hush up” with their misguided criticisms.

Arthur Topham