Opinion: Promises, promises

Here’s a request for candidates seeking election in the upcoming school board and municipal election: Only promise what you can deliver.

Here’s a simple request for candidates seeking election in the upcoming school board and municipal election: Only promise what you can deliver.

That might seem an obvious request. But all too often, candidates vow to achieve things they clearly cannot. They either fail to provide the true cost of their promise, or they promise something outside the legal mandate of the office they seek.

Call it exuberance. Call it ignorance. Either way it doesn’t serve the voter and it disrespects the process.

For example, there are some fairly severe limits on what a city can and cannot do.

It must work within the provincial legislation that governs its existence. A promise to silence every train whistle within the city boundaries might sound attractive, but trains are a federal responsibility. City council can’t make them do anything.

Likewise, a promise by a school board candidate to hire more teachers won’t happen without an explanation of where the money to pay for those new employees will come from. School districts (unlike the federal or provincial government, or even a city), cannot, by provincial law, run a deficit.

Which brings up the second point: Money.

Rarely does a promise come without a cost, and candidates have an obligation to identify what that cost will be.

A promise to double the number of parks in the city, for example, might draw support. But what will it cost to maintain those parks, and what impact will the removal of that land from the tax base have on city finances?

A promise to cut taxes, or at least hold them at zero, must also include details on where the cuts in services will be made (or alternate revenue found)  to accommodate that plan.

None of this is to suggest candidates can’t have ideas or voice creative and imaginative solutions to the problems communities like Chilliwack face. But they have an obligation to voters to ensure that what they promise is practical – or even possible.

And we as voters have the responsibility to do the research and ask the tough questions to ensure these lofty ideas have some grounding in reality.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey Unitarians take call for racial justice to street

‘When we see it in our lives, we can either say something about it or be complicit in it’

Surrey Eagles forward Michael Abgrall had two goals and two assists in a pair of weekend victories. (Damon James photo)
Surrey Eagles’ offence soars in pair of lopsided victories

BC Hockey League squad scores 22 goals in two wins over Powell River, Coquitlam

A youngster goes hunting for trash on a Surrey sidewalk. (Submitted photo: City of Surrey)
Anniedale school in 1899 with teacher Jessie Inglis, left, and students Hugh Gillis, Harry Latta, Fred Williams, Horatio Hodder, Fraser Latta, Margaret Hodder, Robert Hodder, Annie Gillis and Mary Hodder. (Photo courtesy Surrey Archives)
SURREY NOW & THEN: Old Anniedale schoolhouse closed twice due to pandemic, moved twice

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Vancouver Police Department. (Black Press Media files)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Large gatherings of people at Kitsilano Beach on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Walter Wells/Twitter)
Vancouver police to reassess enforcement of COVID rules at outdoor parties: mayor

No tickets were given out for a large outdoor party at Kitsilano Beach

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

British Columbia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Wildfire fanned by winds near Merritt prompts evacuation alert

BC Wildfire Service says the suspected human-caused blaze was fanned by winds

Most Read