There oughta be a study

Two & Out
By James Peters
December 29, 2017 - 1:57pm

KAMLOOPS — 2017 could rightly be called the year of the study in Kamloops.

Or the year of the failed study, depending on how you look at it.

The biggest, of course, was the Environmental Assessment Office's review of the KGHM-Ajax mine proposal.

It was, essentially, one big study that, after years of asking questions, came to a clear conclusion.

In parallel, an international consulting firm completed its own study of the mine project, commissioned by the City of Kamloops.

Council felt a second set of eyes was warranted, one that viewed the project through the lens of a citizen of Kamloops, rather than the EAO's look, which reported to the statutory decision-makers in Victoria.

The mining company paid for the first phase of the SLR study, but when the consulting firm said its study was going to cost more, KGHM put its wallet back in its pocket, leaving Kamloops taxpayers on the hook for the rest.

Then there was the $100,000 downtown parking study council got cold feet on in November.

The outpouring of opposition was strong and vocal.

On a online poll with more than 1,000 respondents, 84 per cent opposed the council's approval of the study.

So arguing in favour of studies may be an act of swimming upstream, but it really shouldn't be.

Our decision-makers can make decisions based on either a set of facts derived from asking questions, or they can make decisions based on what they already believe or what they have heard on the street, whether or not facts factor in.

One is an iteration of the scientific method; it's authoritative and unassailable.

The other is anecdotes and ideology.

Give this to anecdotal evidence, though: it's cheap.

So is licking your finger and sticking it up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.

If you want to reach authoritative conclusions, the data will cost money to compile.

Studies get mocked for being expensive make-work projects, but when they're done well, they lay the basis for the smartest long term decisions.

Maybe there should be more studies, not fewer.