When Debating a Controversial Plan, Does 30 Percent Equal a Majority?

In the face of vocal opposition, Vancouver's city council approved a proposed bike route and greenway. For one former councillor, if a third of the speakers in hostile public meetings support a project, that's enough to indicate a silent majority.
August 1, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"In the face of [opposition], when does a city councillor decide it is time to back down and abandon an idea, and when – as Vancouver city council did on Monday in approving a bike route in the western beaches – do they say, 'In spite of the vocal objections, we’re going ahead with what we think is best for the city?'” asks Frances Bula.

"Former city councillor Gordon Price maintains that, if about a third of the people who come out to council support your idea, that is a strong enough sign."

"'In a very emotional and often hostile environment, if 30 per cent of the speakers have made the effort to come out in spite of the opposition, that means the community support is probably there,' said Mr. Price, who was a councillor with the city’s once-dominant centre-right party and is now a vocal cycling and transit advocate."

"Mr. Price said that moderate supporters often get scared off from speaking publicly because the opponents can seem so intimidating. So when they do step up, their opinions get extra points."

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Published on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 in The Globe and Mail
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