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Our take: Is a neat and tidy CVRD making a mess for voters?

Richard Hughes is fond of saying democracy is messy.

That more than anything else is what drove the outspoken former Cobble Hill director, and five other former Cowichan Valley Regional District directors, to make a mass delegation to the CVRD board Wednesday night.

They couched their concerns in polite terms behind the respected voice of former board chair Jack Peake, but their message was unmistakeable: you guys are doing it wrong; you have abdicated your leadership role, avoided debate, handed vital duties over to staff and allowed CVRD business to be conducted with the neatly combed, pressed sheen of an army of suits in a bland corporation.

The message was received with cool courtesy, but we can tell you what probably went through the minds of some incumbent directors: maybe it was you guys who were doing it wrong; now we are actually getting things done, often by consensus, instead of spending countless hours chasing our tails thanks to confrontational officials who were really mostly interested in hearing themselves talk.

Loren Duncan was accused by some of being something of a Hughes wannabe when first elected as Sahtlam/Glenora director a dozen years ago. Today, seemingly poised to run uncontested for his fifth term, Duncan can still revel in the role of contrarian.

He calls this board the best he has ever worked with.

Whether that’s a tribute to positive change on the board, or an indictment of Duncan, we’re with Hughes on the opening point: democracy is often a messy business.

The question is how much of a mess is necessary; how big does the mess get before it gets in the way of good government?

Most of the current CVRD board seems happy with the way things are operating. Most of the CVRD board is running for re-election.

When it comes to answering questions, there’s no time like an election.

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