In the end, the final results were anticlimactic. Tuesday's deadline for concerned citizens who wanted an "alternative approval process" to oppose the city's proposed $59-million loan authorization bylaw came and went with little fanfare.
Citizen advocate James Crosty was one of the leading voices, but even his persuasive ways could only lead to 2,098 total petitions reaching city hall, far short of the 4,528 or 10 per cent of the estimated number of electors needed for the city to go to a referendum. In the tough world of politics, that would seem to be a colossal failure, but what has resulted from the process is the city realizing that people care about the project and want their voices heard.
In fact, many people who signed petitions weren't opposed to the building of the office tower; they were opposed to how the city decided to borrow the money with little or no public consultation. Crosty wasn't all too surprised that his supporters couldn't meet the threshold because he knew the odds were stacked against them.
Too little time, too much of it in the summer months when people are thinking alternative vacation plans instead of alternative approval process, and too many roadblocks to overcome.
Crosty is correct that the process has allowed more people to find their voice and speak up against the process. Whether those voices will be heard is up to Mayor Wayne Wright and council, but if Wright's comments are any indication, they got the message loud and clear.
"Maybe we didn't do our best in communicating our vision, but we will do better in the future," said Wright. "What we've learned is there are more than 2,000 people we need to get to, people we need to communicate with better, and that's what we'll try to do in the future."
And that's the prize to be gained from this exercise in democracy.