Unfiltered water, and city representatives, has led to a very unsocial media experience.
Now, almost six weeks into the boil water notice (at the time of our print deadline), the story of Prince Rupert’s shortfalls has reached the attention of Canadian Press. The story has been fed into news outlets across the country with Prince Rupert resident, Tom Kertes, as the only person interviewed. The rest of the quotes were taken from Facebook posts from the mayor, and the city’s website.
Kertes, who we met with last week, has launched a grassroots group called Community for Clean Water. His message for the city is to get off Facebook, and work with the community to develop a clean water preparedness plan. Not everyone has social media, and this shouldn’t be the only way to get information.
At last week’s council meeting, the acting mayor told residents that Facebook won’t solve this, and a councillor called active online users ‘keyboard warriors’. These types of comments aren’t going to win council any points — especially when after this council meeting, the acting mayor had a heated back-and-forth public discussion through Facebook with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.
For those who do follow the ongoing drama on social media, there isn’t anything valuable being shared here. It’s like watching a never-ending chess game.
To diffuse the situation, Mayor Lee Brain, from somewhere in Victoria, shared a video post on Jan. 17. But again, he chose to share his message through Facebook, not through The Northern View, the radio, or on the city website.
“I know people want to point a finger somewhere but there really isn’t,” he said. Then Brain called what happened between the Rice and acting mayor Niesh a situation of miscommunication.
There is no end to the miscommunication and it begins and ends with Facebook.
At the next council meeting, on Jan. 28, Community for Clean Water has requested to address council — in person — to share the vision for providing safe drinking water for all residents while the boil water notice is in effect.
Residents who were disappointed with the last council meeting can drop into next Monday’s meeting, which is the first committee of the whole for 2019, when the city hears recommendations from the public. A little old fashioned, but it’s a way to guarantee your opinion is heard and not scrolled over.
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