The City of White Rock’s “rumours and misperceptions” webpage is no more.
The city began inviting the public to report “rumours” to its webpage – Rumours and Misperceptions: Eliminating Misinformation – last year.
According to the city, the page was established to address “inaccurate information circulating in the community and the media” with facts and topics added on a regular basis.
However, following the Oct. 20 civic election, the page has been re-titled “Questions & Answers,” although most of the content seems to have remained the same.
City communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi told Peace Arch News Wednesday via email that “the change is in keeping with the new Council’s direction.”
White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker told PAN that the change was part of the new council’s approach to increase transparency at city hall.
“We decided that instead of rumours and innuendos – we don’t think that’s particularly healthy for anybody – let’s talk about questions and answers. Let’s talk about what’s really happening in our community,” Walker said Wednesday.
Walker said the rumours and misperceptions webpage was “one of the frustrations” his Democracy Direct candidates had leading up to the Oct. 20 election, and that they had “the desire to stay as far away from those as we possibly can.”
He said the new council is working through its list of objectives “slowly but surely” and “we just want to make sure that when we do it, we do it right the first time.”
“There’s a bit more work but we’re well on our way to working through the transparency piece,” Walker said.
One month after the Rumours and Misperceptions webpage was launched last year, City CAO Dan Bottrill said the page was receiving “positive attention” and that it was serving its purpose.
Two months later, PAN received the results of a freedom-of-information request asking for all emails received from the email@example.com email address.
While some of the reports were serious inquiries, others appeared to be satirical in nature.
“Dear City Myth Busters,” one email, accompanied by a cartoon image from the Netflix original series Bojack Horseman, begins.
“Thank you for setting up this site. I have many myths that I wanted to have professionally investigated and this seems to be a fantastic use of my tax dollars. My first rumour you can dispel is that Mayor Wayne Baldwin, is actually two children in a coat. I have attached the image that is circulating to support this rumor.”
The rumour was not accompanied with a response or posted to the city’s website.
Bottrill told PAN that the city would not respond to “silly and frivolous” rumours.
The new Questions & Answers page features three questions, which are the same featured when the webpage was titled Rumours and Misperceptions.
Among others, the questions asked on the page inquire about a presence of glyphosate in White rock water; if the city is allowing highrises on Marine Drive; and asking if the city is hiding how much it paid for the water utility.
The city answers each question on the webpage, saying that there’s no glyphosate in White Rock water; the city is not allowing highrises on Marine Drive; and the city paid $13.4 million for the water utility from Epcor.
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