A little background information about myself: I was born here 50 years ago and served in the military for 27 years. I recently retired in my hometown and am now curious about how our community is governed. Mayor Mike Bradley is well-known to my family and me, and I am confident that he is aware of our existence. However, I have no political allegiance to the Mayor.
Now that I’m back, I thought it was time to start learning and monitoring our governance. I decided to watch the Oct. 16 City Council meeting. To describe my immediate reactions, I was taken aback. The following are my thoughts as someone who has been trained in senior management.
Housing development: it was good to see that the City is taking steps (although slowly) to develop Area 2 while considering the needs of Western Research Park. Common sense prevailed in balancing the growth of the Research Park while ensuring that additional dwellings created did not violate the provincial guidelines. Then Councillor Burrell took the microphone and explained why being prepared before to the meeting is critical.
Jordan Fohkens, BM Ross, who appears to be a regular at these meetings, did his best to guide Councillor Burrell that the information he was seeking was in fact on the screen, in colour, and graphically represented on what the Research Park was looking for. His questioning highlighted his lack of foresight in reviewing the information supplied to him prior to ask more crucial questions such as, “Will the development utilise new federal government initiatives such as solar for the homes or the Research Park?”
The proposed development on Indian and Exmouth exposed not only Councillor Burrell’s lack of understanding of what is required for development (his parking questions were in BM Ross’s presentation), but also the Council’s lack of preparation for the presentation.
I was astonished that no councillor mentioned the proposed amendments of lowering ceiling heights and reducing the number of first-floor units. Mr. Fohkens may have provided an outstanding explanation of the impacts of these revisions, but we will never know because the focus was on parking whose renters are likely to utilize city public transportation. Again, a lack of preparation before questioning the presentations produces delays in city growth.
The most terrible aspect of the meeting occurred when Councillor Bill Dennis used the Carbon Tax presentation to personally attack the Mayor. “Are you that desperate to protect your friend, Canada’s worst Prime Minister?” the Mayor was asked. Then he blames the council, claiming that “everyone on the council is left of Mao..” The cherry on top was when he questioned the environmental presenter’s credibility in driving a gas-powered vehicle, stating, “come on… I happen to know a little about you guy…”
Even if Councillor Dennis had one iota of substance in his counter-argument to the environmental assessment, his manner and lack of respect for the Council cost him all credibility. The meeting looked to have been adjourned owing to his obnoxious outburst, and the city’s vital work was delayed because this councillor was unprepared what the goal of the presentation was.
If his intention was to depict the Mayor as incapable of governing, to quote our Australian friends, “he was like a boomerang that misses its target and comes back and hits you in the head.”
Jonathan De Swert