Consider the recent launch of Special Development Orders for a variety of projects. In some eyes they may be the guide to a great future for Bermuda, yet for others they may not. The problem with our system of government today is that it does not involve enough feedback from the people. Take Southlands for example. It may be a great solution to revitalizing tourism, but are all Bermudians equally willing to sell off what is left of our open space to achieve it?
Our government believes that it is a trade that will provide the best future for our island and they may be correct. However, should the beliefs of government take precident over the believes of individual citizens? Objectors to Southlands have until Friday of next week to review the huge plan that is inches think, during regular business hours by visiting the planning office. They may also write letters of objection prior to that date in an effort to sway the minds of government should they care to. Either way, government shall make it’s decision on the approval of the Special Development Order shortly following that deadline.
The issue with this process is that it really isn’t accessable for most people. In modern times many individuals would like to be informed about the future that will impact us directly. As a person who works full time and perhaps has other obligations outside of work, how easy is it for you to review any of the projects that may be of interest to you? How easy is it for you to give a fair and honest review of proposed plans and decide whether you think they are great solutions for Bermuda’s future?
What if e-Government meant you could visit gov.bm and review the plan in your own time. Would it give you the ability to do a fair review and become ‘informed’ about the future plans for our island? If the plans are good ones, would it be difficult to gain your support? If not, could government be more open about accepting constructive feedback for how the plan could be improved to better benefit most if not all Bermudians?
Visiting the website for the planning department today yields little information. The ‘Planning Initatives’ page on the site lists the following
The Year Ahead 2003/2004
In the upcoming year the Department will give priority to completing its review of the 1992 Bermuda Plan. This project was given an impetus with the publication of the 2000 Census results. Key stakeholders, professional organisations, leading NGOs and affected Ministries will be called upon to comment on the Plan’s policies and to put forward ideas for dealing more effectively with the planning and environmental issues of the day.
What impact would it have if today that page had reviews of the Southlands project? What if today it freely posted arguements both for and against it for all to view? What if today you could read up on the plan for yourself, understand the details and implications, understand what it will mean for our future both for a projected boost in tourism and the projected costs to our infrastructure, environment and open space? What if you could contribute your own views? Would Southlands have a different perspective for you, could you be convinced to change your view?
Perhaps it’s worth the sacrafice, perhaps it is not. Only by knowing the inner details can one truly make an informed opinion. Our government has done a great job with putting our laws online along with the land valuation department and other projects to make our government more accessible. Would it not be a great continuation of the trend to launch planning and other departments into the e-government era as well?