Need for more and bet­ter in­ter­ac­tion of TBL coun­cil with res­i­dents

Sherbrooke Record - - BROME COUNTY -

With the up­com­ing elec­tion, we ex­pect to wel­come new mem­bers to the TBL Coun­cil. With the thought that “hope springs eter­nal,” two long-time TBL res­i­dents ex­press be­low some thoughts for im­prov­ing our coun­cil’s per­for­mance — with the hope that change will re­sult.

A) May­ors and coun­cil­lors, in­clud­ing those with mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, should at­tend ses­sions pro­vided by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment ex­plain­ing the role of a mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil. (If they are not men­tally or tem­per­a­men­tally equipped for the job — they should not have run for of­fice!)

They are elected to gov­ern the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in a way that is best for the res­i­dents. They are agents rep­re­sent­ing their con­stituents and theirs is of­ten a sell­ing job. Where a coun­cil­lor’s con­stituents are not in agree­ment with a coun­cil de­ci­sion, it is in­cum­bent on their coun­cil­lor to pro­vide cred­i­ble ar­gu­ments ex­plain­ing how and on what ba­sis he/she voted. (In our ex­pe­ri­ence, Robin Moore was one of the few past coun­cil­lors to a) de­ter­mine how his con­stituents felt about an im­por­tant project, and b) give a pub­lic ex­pla­na­tion in case he voted for a dif­fer­ent so­lu­tion.)

B) The con­duct of pub­lic TBL Coun­cil meet­ings must change.

Coun­cil meet­ings have be­come so rou­tine (and un­in­for­ma­tive) that aver­age at­ten­dance has dropped from 50 (when Gilles De­celles was mayor) to 15 or less un­der Richard Bur­combe. Meet­ings are con­ducted ac­cord­ing to a script. There is no pub­lic dis­cus­sion (any dis­cus­sion hav­ing taken place be­hind closed doors dur­ing the “work­ing meet­ing” held the pre­vi­ous week). As a con­se­quence, res­i­dents have no idea of the ba­sis for the de­ci­sion, or their own coun­cil­lor’s role in the dis­cus­sion. There should be pub­lic de­bate at coun­cil meet­ings, at least over new and po­ten­tially con­tro­ver­sial is­sues.

C) Lo­cal in­for­mal meet­ings in each elec­toral district should be more fre­quent. The lo­cal coun­cil­lor should be al­lowed to pre­side (the mayor be­ing back-up when nec­es­sary).

1) Dis­cus­sion should re­volve around plans af­fect­ing the lo­cal­ity, such as changes be­ing con­sid­ered, or in progress, re­gard­ing de­vel­op­ment, zon­ing by­laws, mi­nor vari­ances, etc.

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