Several members of our group attended the council meeting held on December 20th/2010.
– Stewart Strathearn was permitted to take ten minutes to give a deputation to council on behalf of our group. (See midlandcommunity.ca for a full brief)
Mayor McKay thanked him for a very thoughtful address. Councillor File indicated that some of the Towns’ financial commitments extended beyond the fiscal year as collective agreements and contractual issues were necessary to run “a big ship”. Councillor Attwood indicated that low cost housing should be the responsibility of the Province and in fact, Midland had the highest number of low cost housing in the region.
Bob Bruer, from Safe Communities Intentional Self Harm Prevention addressed the Council as a reminder that Midland is 84% above the regional average in this area. Mr. Bruer proposed that health care and ER staff be reminded of protocols when confronted with self-harm patients. Council was supportive of reminding front line professionals.
– Water and Sewer rates are to be increased by approximately 16 – 17 percent. Two residents suggested that council should reconsider summer rates and user pay system prevail. Ms. Gignac from the town explained that these rates had been over subsidized and the increases were needed to run the facility.
– General Accounts for the month of November were approved at approx $2.5 million.
– Items previously tabled were approved and Mayor McKay led a discussion proposing dates and timing for the agreed strategy session workshop. January 2011 was proposed with two working weekends to accomplish the task.
Strategy needed to be established for the next four years and since internal staff declined to be involved for good reasons, Mayor McKay suggested that a pre-budget approval of $3000.00 would fund a facilitator.
Councillor Jeffery took exception to this recommendation and suggested that since Mr. Strathearn had asked for more spending controls and offered assistance to council; the coalition be approached to support the initiative. Mr. Jeffery’s also went on to say that he disagreed with the notion that Midland taxes were too high but has heard the message from our group.
Much discussion took the council to a motion. Motion: To approve the pre-budget spend for $3000, in the event that council cannot get a community member to assist in the facilitation.
This motion was passed by a slim margin of five to four.
Councilor Charlebois made a public request to Mayor McKay asking why he had not been considered for any committee. The Mayor declined to comment publicly on his reasons and invited the Councilor Charlebois to a private meeting in his office, for which we learned he later declined.
This debate was an unfortunate display to an amazed gallery and certainly confirms that we need to assist councilors to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility and work together in the interest of the residents of Midland.