I have a coffee meeting scheduled for today.
A lot of important stuff goes on in coffee shops. To be honest, though, none of it happens at my table. We never agree on anything.
At other tables, lawyers talk about the law, accountants crunch numbers, politicians talk issues, bureaucrats wade knee-deep into rules and regulations.
My group does nothing important. We make no decisions, and when we’re done the world isn’t any better off than when we started.
But when you think about it, meetings make the world go ‘round. Meetings decide how much we’ll pay in taxes, how many dogs we can have, whether our country goes to war, who lives and who dies.
There’s a meeting in Vancouver right now in which the mayors, councils and regional districts of the province are having a big influence on our daily lives.
It’s the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, a chatfest attended by several hundred civic politicians. The agenda is chock full of workshops, luncheon meetings, meetings within meetings, and those all-important micro-meetings known as networking.
In between all that, mayors and councils get to meet for 10 or 15 minutes with cabinet ministers, the political equivalent of speed dating in which there’s barely time to say good morning.
But, some serious things do get done. There are more than 150 proposals to debate in resolutions meetings, things like the Mineral Tenure Act, speed limits, photo radar, bullying and the tethering of dogs. The results will be passed on to Victoria.
Quite often, provincial laws are a reflection of what the UBCM asks for. All laws come from meetings.
I’m still trying to digest exactly what was accomplished last week at Ajax days. The four marathon meetings hosted by KGHM were sparsely attended. Some people take that to mean the public isn’t worried about Ajax, others as proof the meetings were a failure.
After enduring about four hours of them, my view is they were well-run even though they put the capital B in boring.
Last week I wrote that the Stop Ajax coalition was worried about getting a good crowd at its anti-Ajax rally, and came close to calling it off. They got a respectable turnout of about 130 (sorry, Stop Ajax, it was nowhere near 250) yet some media characterized it as a confrontation with mine supporters because a handful of students showed up in a Hummer.
If you wanted rowdy and rude, you should have taken in the Westsyde community meeting on the plan for a new gravel pit.
It was one of the worst-run meetings I’ve ever seen — worse, even, than our coffee klatch. There was nobody to moderate, only the poor gravel-pit owner taking a whuppin’ as he tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to explain the details of his project. At a corner table, government bureaucrats were unprepared to handle the sometimes reasonable, sometimes not, questions and demands from the angry crowd.
Things can get passionate in the coffee shop, too. We argue over the lack of parking, whether Assad really did use chemical weapons, and whose turn it is to pay for the coffee.
Then we do it again in a couple of days.
There are meetings, and then there are meetings.