There’s a hitch though. I’m stopped.
I’m told that I can’t separate my role as activist or journalist.
I offer to not use my camera, ME2, and just sit in and participate but I’m told that OPG will walk if I’m present.
What a lot of people forget when working in groups is to check their ego. I saw the look in Rebecca Sorrell’s eyes and without any fuss or muss step down. I end up waiting nearly two hours for the meeting to end.
It gives me time to make some calls and work on some notes for the follow up to Beavergate. It’s been inspiring to work together as a team. It’s been inspiring to combat stubbornness and ignorance without being overly emotional about it.
Since my first story April 25th a lot of neat things have happened. Yes, it’s important to save the beavers in Guindon Park, but this is also a metaphor about getting elected officials and those that work on behalf of the public to listen to we the public. It’s about the process and holding people accountable. It doesn’t always have to be an us or them fight.
Cornwall Politicians have failed big time when it comes to listening and responding to the public in a meaningful way. There’s been a mean spiritedness in how Beavergate has been handled.
As positive these first few strands of light are, and the meeting did show some huge strands of light, the bottom line is that the only reason this meeting took place is because of internal and external public pressures.
Yesterday the Standard Free Holder came out with a story on Beavergate. It was written by Cheryl Brink. I’m not sure which journalism school she went to, but the Free Holder last I looked was a Broadsheet newspaper. I personally practice Gonzo Journalism.
Gonzo journalismis a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word “gonzo” is believed to be first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. The term has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors.
Gonzo journalism tends to favor style over fact to achieve accuracy—if accuracy is in fact meant to be achieved at all—and often uses personal experiences and emotions to provide context for the topic or event being covered. It disregards the “polished”, edited product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more gritty, personable approach—the personality of a piece is just as important as the event the piece is on. Use of quotations, sarcasm,humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common.
Among the forefathers of the new journalism movement, Thompson said in the February 15th, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone, “If I’d written the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people—including me—would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”[
That being said it’s very very important to have facts in a story and even to occasionally fact check.
Ms Brink wrote in her blog:
A group of a dozen or more protesters hit up city hall this week, despite not making it onto the evening’s agenda. The Save the Beaver petitioners brought signs and homemade t-shirts, hoping to make a plea for the end to trapping of the country’s national animal in Guindon Park. When they realized they wouldn’t be invited to speak, they left in a rather noisy fashion. “I’ll see you next council, Mr. Kilger,” said Rebecca Sorrell, the unofficial leader of the group, and the petition’s author.
Personally, I don’t think they’re going to get too far. Trapping for the purpose of population control has been going for more than two decades with very little controversy; the beavers are still around but the roads haven’t flooded. The city has little motivation to make changes … plus a couple of traps were stolen from the park this year, which I’m sure will do the opposite of helping this group’s cause.
As this video of part of the protesters entering council shows there are well over a dozen. Why lower the number? Why leave out the facts? Why leave out how Beavergate started? Why slur the group by suggesting that somehow they were behind traps being allegedly stolen from Guindon park?
A quick telephone call to the police would have given Ms Brink the police report filed April 26, 2012 numbered CW12005380 in which the Trapper, Mr. Quinn, complained of one trap, valued at $33 being stolen from near its location near the Forest Washrooms.
Why would there be a trap near the washrooms next to the RC track where kids play?
When I started Beavergate after hearing about the plight of Guindon Park from Mr. Wyatt Walsh my first home work was talking to experts; scientists, biologists, and gaining the facts of this situation. Could not Ms. Brink. Ms Sorrell and her group didn’t start until after the 26th. Why slur them, even loosely in her story? As well I spoke to Mr. Pat Quinn the trapper who said four traps were stolen and that complained that we media were a big part of the problem and hung up on me.
My request for a 90 day moratorium was met by the trap being moved to the beaver lodge – clearly showing a lack of good faith or willingness to dialog.
Was it because Council and the CAO have a hard on for CFN? I don’t know. I do know it was unnecessary.
After the meeting I again; for the third time emailed Mayor Kilger, the CAO, Council and management requesting an immediate 90 day moratorium of trapping in Guindon Park.
I hope this time it’s met with the reality that we as a city have a huge opportunity. Lesley Fox of The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals has clearly offered to send at their cost a team to deal with the issues of Beaver Control in Guindon Park.
Not only will this ultimately save the city dollars. It will help Guindon Park become an even better attraction. They also will be training city staff at no cost and some volunteers who are excited about the opportunity as this service, which is evolving very quickly can be costly and is a growing area of jobs as there’s an acute shortage of people that can provide these services.
So as you can clearly see this is a huge opportunity for we citizens of Cornwall Ontario. It’s truly a win win situation for all involved if they embrace it.
OPG left the meeting first last night. Since that first phone call to me where they basically lied they’ve been a dark shadow on this process. I hope Ms Haliday’s employers in Toronto realize that there are always options to better the environment and respect your neighbors.
As for Ms. Brink’s comment above:
Trapping for the purpose of population control has been going for more than two decades with very little controversy
It’s our job in the media to help bring issues to light. If we in the media don’t bring concerns to our pages how ever will an issue become controversial enough to bring pressure on our elected officials to respond?
And to end this piece is a video we shot with Rebecca Sorrell, her wonderful dog Ridley who hopes to play safely in the future in Guindon Park and Mr. Wyatt Walsh who expertly reputed OPG’s Engineers report to kick off the meeting.
Ms Sorrell is not going to let her tootsie off of the gas pedal. Her petition continues online and in stores like Island Ink Jet (3rd street and Pitt across from the Royal Bank) and she still hopes to present to council with her supporters at the next meeting.
You can post your comments below.
UPDATE 9:17 AM
We just received word from Mr. Stephen Alexander, General Manager Planning, Parks, and Recreation Services from Cornwall Ontario
There was an e mail last night asking for consideration of a 90 day moratorium on traps in the park.
In fact, following the meeting, staff determined , and put into action steps to remove the only trap that was remaining in the park while we are considering if any other approaches can achieve the objectives of protecting the park infrastructure etc. for park users.
To my understanding, from information this morning, by the time you get this e mail it may have in fact been removed, together with the signs.
I personally want to thank Mr. Alexander for this amazing gesture and step forward by the City Management of Cornwall Ontario!