The City of White Rock has a long history of celebrating its residents and frequent visitors, allowing plaques and other dedications to be installed at prominent public places celebrating and memorializing loved ones.
The city also has long had a little-publicized policy on its books that when infrastructure is set to be eliminated, so too are attached memorials.
This latter revelation caught many in the community off guard last week, when it was learned that dedication plaques on waterfront light poles and benches – costing donors of the past 25 years $2,500 a pop – were bound for the scrapyard, as the city plans $30 million in renovations along the waterfront over the next four years.
And this critical reaction caught civic leaders off guard, some of whom are now vowing to revisit and potentially revise their plaque policy at their first opportunity next month, before any of the memorials could be discarded.
No harm, no foul – thanks to resident Dean Berkeley who learned of the plan from city staff and sounded the alarm publicly.
Still, one must wonder what civic leaders past and present were thinking when they each first noted the policy while preparing for their term in public office. Did it not give them pause and perhaps sound an internal alarm that just maybe it should be rethought?
Of course, there would be a public outcry.
There are memorial plaques on old benches along the pier, some that have been there for close to a half-century. There are more recent ones on the bricks that make up the promenade in front of the White Rock Museum, which served as a train station back in the day.
Does it make sense that a select few of these memorial plaques – bought and paid for by loved ones – are then turfed without warning when a new plan comes up?
Thankfully this exercise in damage control gives city leaders a chance to fix city policies before they break anything.
And it gives voters the opportunity to see if their elected officials are listening and able to come up with a solution that will be viable for years to come.