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.