EDITORIAL: ‘Group think’ should be avoided in trail discussions

It didn’t take long for ATV, ORVs, the TCT and the KVR to make headlines again.

It’s the same old alphabet soup but there are new cooks in the kitchen.

Last November one of the first acts of the recently elected council was to strike a committee charged with making recommendations on how the KVR through town boundaries could be shared.

This, after years of division over the previous government’s decision to enforce a ban on motorized vehicles on the municipality’s section of trail.

Surely you remember it.

It was a key issue in the 2018 vote.

Related: Trail committee motors along – recommendations could be made before summer

In an interview following the announcement of the committee Mayor Spencer Coyne said: “If we want to find the solution the question has to be posed: Can this be a mixed trail use?…Give me the recommendation on how it’s going to be done.”

Committee representatives were duly chosen, with the majority of appointments assigned to motorized user groups such as the Princeton ATV Club, Similkameen ATV Riders Club, ATV BC, Timberline Cruisers and the Osprey Snow Wheelers ATV Club.

Two equine groups, the Vermilion Forks Field Naturalists, people from neighbourhoods abutting the trail and community members at large were also invited to participate.

However after only a couple of meetings both members of the VFFN and one member at large – who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in part on a platform of keeping the trail non-motorized – resigned.

Related: More members step off Princeton council’s trail committee

Their letters to council contained pointed and specific criticism of the how the committee is proceeding. However they received no comments from around the table save for the fact that Neal Dangerfield had already been replaced and the spots allotted for the naturalists would remain open for a period of time.

This is not an opinion on whether the KVR ought to be motorized, but rather a plea for best practices and process.

And it’s about the dangers of group think.

It’s proven that any group of people – no matter how well meaning or “right” – will not perform as well as a diverse group that brings together different experiences and points of view.

To that end, a real effort should be made to ensure that this committee – which was formed to find consensus – continues to include non-motorized voices.

That’s especially true as many of the people on the committee are not Princeton residents, yet they have the important responsibility of advising Princeton’s council.

It’s not always just about what decision is made. Sometimes it’s about how you get there.

-The Similkameen Spotlight.

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