Port McNeill waterfront. (Bill McQuarrie photo)

Port McNeill waterfront. (Bill McQuarrie photo)

McQUARRIE: Thank you, playgroup committee, you did your homework

“If you want something, step up and be willing to be part of the solution.”

“If you want something, step up and be willing to be part of the solution.”

There was a story buried in the comments section of a Gazette Facebook post on the waterfront playground project. And it was a story that goes a long way towards explaining why some communities are so much more successful than others.

It began when a group of Port McNeill volunteers, operating under the banner of The Waterfront Playgroup Committee decided enough was enough and action instead of talk was required. As a result and within a matter of two to three weeks, what had gone nowhere in nearly two years was suddenly backed by the town and just one major step away from reality.

But that’s not the story, or at least the story I will remember for years to come. What I saw was a perfect illustration of how an idea gains traction when residents, instead of politicians, take the lead. In fact I see it as one of the best definitions of not only how things get done but also how residents and a sense of community are so vital to the development of their town.

I had written three news articles and one column about this subject. The latter generated more interest and discussion than any other Port McNeill column I have written before, but it was the comments in that last article that provided a pointed and needed civics lesson.

It began with a complaint on social media asking, “Why is it everything that gets done passed (sic) is always the waterfront?” Mention was made of other areas in town, the need for improvement there, and how the playground proposal was taking money away from those necessities.

Leighann Murgatroyd Ruel of the playgroup committee responded with a truth that residents everywhere should note when she explained: “…this is not being done in place of other priorities, this is being done by volunteers! If you want something, step up and be willing to be part of the solution.”

Jaylene Lancaster, also member of the committee added, “More people need to step up and be willing to be part of the solution to things instead of sitting back and just complaining on social media.”

Ms. Lancaster then provided a crash course in volunteer leadership, saying: “I would suggest writing up a proposal to the town on what you would like to see improved.”

Continuing, she went on to define determination to see it through as, “…if it’s something you are passionate about enough to raise funds, apply for grants, or even do the research, and write a proposal to the town, it may be passed, just like our proposal was.”

Is the project proposed by the playgroup committee supported by everyone in Port McNeill? No, like any other proposal that comes before council, there will always be those who disagree, but for me, that is no longer the point.

What I saw was an idea championed by a group of dedicated residents and that idea generated more interest, discussion and opinions than anything I’ve witnessed since I began writing for the Gazette.

So thanks, playgroup committee. You did your homework, you made decision makers decide, you ‘woke’ the town and you made things happen. And in my opinion, that is how communities grow, survive and thrive.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com

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City CouncilColumnist