By Tom Lupton, Director
One of the best things about becoming a parent and (gulp) an adult, is that I get to smugly repeat all of the ‘parenting’ mantras that I used to hear ad nauseum when I was a child. Phrases like “clean your room” or “don’t be so selfish" or my favorite synonym for no: “we’ll see”. I must have heard that thousands of times as a kid, and now I’ve repeated it thousands more as a parent. In fact, it has become so ingrained in my lexicon that, as the saying goes, if I had a nickel for every time I heard or said “‘we’ll see", I’d probably have enough to pay for the removal of the toxic soil myself!
However, the phrase that has actually resonated the most with me from my childhood was “take some responsibility.” As a kid, this didn’t really impact me, and there is good reason for this. Kids, by design, are selfish. They are ego driven and focussed on personal goals and don’t have enough life experience to appreciate the importance of responsibility. This is why kids don’t get to drive motorized vehicles, vote in elections, hold positions of importance in society, or be allowed to live on their own.
As an avid mountain biker, I get to enjoy the fruits of adulthood by exploring the beautiful trails in and around Shawnigan. While I am mostly awestruck by the natural splendor that abounds, I am frequently disappointed by the garbage and waste that is dumped in our trails. Social degenerates who dump couches and waste in the bushes are a particular problem, but so too are the ‘adults’ who dirtbike or ATV up into the bush, have a fire, and then scatter their beer cans and smash their bottles. I can hear my father yelling “take some responsibility for yourself!” and shaking his head disappointedly.
This absolutely isn’t an indictment on motorized sport, rather, it is an indictment on anyone in our community who refuses to own their selfish behaviour. It’s not just beer cans in the bush; it’s car batteries leaking into the soil, it’s septic fields that overflow into the lake, it’s the trash that pollutes our drinking water. Irresponsibility and selfishness wear many masks. In his book, 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, Doug Griffiths speaks about ‘Taking Responsibility’ as a foundational element of communities that thrive.
While a few bad apples shouldn’t ruin the bunch, we should ask ourselves, how good are we as a community at taking responsibility? In some ways, exceptionally good. Shawnigan clean-up days, fighting the toxic soil dumping, helping our neighbours and so on. But we are also constrained by government to the extent to which we can take responsibility for ourselves because many of the actions we would take require government officials from Duncan. Beyond lobbying the CVRD, what other actions can we take? The extent to which incorporation will allow us to do that is a bit of an unknown quantity, but surely we should find that out if we want, as I suspect we do, the best version of Shawnigan Lake we can have.
Now, time for me to clean my room.