[The following instructions were included with the "Goals and Objectives" Delphi survey, which was run from mid-February to early April 2009.]
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has recently initiated a formal taskforce to find a solution to the problem of roaming horses on the west side of Okanagan Lake. In order to be successful the taskforce must:
- Ensure that the correct problem is solved.
- Ensure that the widest possible range of alternatives is considered prior to making a decision.
- Involve a wide range of stakeholders.
My preference is to engage experts and stakeholders in a formal decision process and to draw on established tools and techniques in each stage of the process, as shown below. The purpose of the current stage (goals and objectives, highlighted in yellow) is to better understand the criteria that a solution must satisfy.
The information created by you during the Delphi surveys (goals, objectives, preferred alternatives) will be passed to RDOS staff. Staff will conduct a formal investigation of the alternatives (possibly with the help of consultants and other experts) in order to make a specific recommendation to the RDOS board. From that point forward, the "problem-solving" process is effectively replaced by political and legislative processes:
- The board considers the bylaw and adopts it on first and second reading. This simply indicates that the board believes the bylaw should be moved to the next stage.
- A public hearing is held in which RDOS staff presents its recommended course of action. Residents are given the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns.
- A formal referendum may be required. Regional districts in British Columbia do not have discretionary budgets for problems such as this. However, regional districts may create "service areas" and requisition funds from taxpayers as long as residents within the service area give their assent.
- Assuming that voter assent is obtained, the bylaw is read a third time and adopted.
Hopefully, the advantage of early community input should be obvious. A public hearing on a staff proposal is rather late in the game for a fundamental examination of the nature of the problem. And it is a tragic waste of time and resources to bring a proposal that has insufficient public support to referendum. Hence these surveys.