Pol­i­tics and per­son­al­i­ties not a good match


When the is­sue is emer­gency pre­pared­ness, it’s prob­a­bly best that petty pol­i­tics and per­son­al­i­ties take a back seat.

We’ve seen on too many oc­ca­sions in re­cent years how im­por­tant it is to be pre­pared. We’ve had to deal with every­thing from ice storms and hur­ri­canes to struc­ture fires and the out­break of in­fec­tious dis­ease.

It’s why the provin­cial govern­ment en­acted the Emer­gency Ser­vices Act in 2009, and it’s why it is re­quir­ing all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince to have an ap­proved emer­gency man­age­ment plan in place by March 2012.

Many towns have com­pleted their plans, while most oth­ers are well into the process.

But in Spa­niard’s Bay, the process has not gone smoothly, with the mayor de­scrib­ing the or­deal re­cently as a “soap opera.” Any­one at­tend­ing coun­cil’s Oct. 3 meet­ing would have seen why there have been de­lays.

It be­came ap­par­ent dur­ing some heated de­bate on the is­sue that pol­i­tics and per­son­al­i­ties have clouded the think­ing of some mem­bers of coun­cil.

Coun­cil was di­vided on whether to hire an independent con­sul­tant and spend some­where in the range of $1,000 to spear­head de­vel­op­ment of the plan, or do the work in-house, with two coun­cil­lors ex­pe­ri­enced in emer­gency man­age­ment lead­ing the process.

Wisely, a mo­tion to hire a con­sul­tant was de­feated af­ter the vote ended in a 3-3 tie.

Was this de­bate even nec­es­sary? Could the tense — and some might say hurt­ful — ex­changes be­tween two mem­bers of coun­cil have been avoided? Most cer­tainly. The prov­ince has is­sued a 12-step guide to as­sist mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with cre­at­ing a plan, and ex­perts with Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices, an agency of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, have been hold­ing in­for­ma­tion ses­sions with towns. There’s also an easy-to-fol­low tem­plate, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for those do­ing the plan to plug in in­for­ma­tion that is spe­cific to their towns and re­gions.

An of­fi­cial in a neigh­bour­ing town called the process “com­mon sense,” and said it was done in con­sul­ta­tion with many ex­perts in the com­mu­nity, with­out spend­ing a cent on con­sul­tants.

The same can be done in Spa­niard’s Bay. The se­cret is to get down to busi­ness in a ma­ture and re­spon­si­ble man­ner.

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