CBN Joint Coun­cil at a cross­roads

First meet­ing since Septem­ber elec­tions to be held Oct. 30 in Clarke’s Beach

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Town coun­cils around the re­gion were not the only ones to ex­pe­ri­ence change in the af­ter­math of the Sept. 24 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

Once the dust set­tled, the Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil was left with­out three-quar­ters of its ex­ec­u­tive.

Only Ge­orge Butt, Car­bon­ear’s deputy mayor, who serves as the chair­man of the ex­ec­u­tive, was left stand­ing. Gone are trea­surer Dave Mur­phy (Har­bour Grace), sec­re­tary Roland An­drews (Clarke’s Beach) and vice-chair­man Garry Ben­dell (Clarke’s Beach).

All three went down to de­feat in the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

Sev­eral high-pro­file and long­time mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers, in­clud­ing John Drover (Spa­niard’s Bay) and Arthur Burke (Vic­to­ria), also de­cided to to re­tire from pol­i­tics.

The changes come at an inop­por­tune time for the coun­cil.

At­ten­dance at monthly meet­ings was on the rise, is­sues were be­ing ad­dressed and, ac­cord­ing to some, the con­cept of greater re­gional co-op­er­a­tion was be­ing taken more se­ri­ously by mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers.

It would not be out­side the realm of pos­si­bil­ity to be­lieve this mass ex­o­dus could be con­strued as a step back­wards for the coun­cil.

How­ever, Butt said he does not think that will hap­pen.

“I don’t think it kills any mo­men­tum,” he said.

Butt com­pletes his term as chair­man at the coun­cil’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, sched­uled for Oct. 30 in Clarke’s Beach.

The joint coun­cil is com­prised of coun­cil­lors from Bri­gus to Vic­to­ria. Each town is al­lowed two vot­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives, al­though an un­lim­ited num­ber of elected of­fi­cials can at­tend meet­ings.

Meet­ings are held on the last Thurs­day of ev­ery month, and lo­ca­tions are ro­tated around to the var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal build­ings in the re­gion.

The coun­cil is de­signed to tackle is­sues at the re­gional level.

Past is­sues on the agenda have been waste col­lec­tion, wa­ter is­sues, in­creased po­lice pres­ence and lur­ing ad­di­tional med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als to the re­gion.

The coun­cil also looked at ad­dress­ing the re­gion­al­iza­tion of es­sen­tial ser­vices. Things such as fire pro­tec­tion and first re­spon­ders have been on the agenda in re­cent months. Of­ten, pro­fes­sion­als in th­ese fields would ad­dress at­tend­ing mem­bers at meet­ings.

Butt said the new coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive will still ad­dress those is­sues and many oth­ers. “I’m sure that will con­tinue,” he said. Al­though he may not be a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive come next Wed­nes­day, Butt said he will still stay on as one of two rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Car­bon­ear.

“We’ll keep it alive,” he said.

Hope­fully, there will be new en­ergy com­ing for­ward from dif­fer­ent towns. — Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore.

Re-ig­nit­ing the flame

Prior to the AGM in 2012, meet­ings were sparsely at­tended and it ap­peared the coun­cil was on its last legs.

“It was pretty dull,” said Butt. “It was a lit­tle bit gone.”

How­ever, with the elec­tion of the lat­est ex­ec­u­tive, things be­gan to turn around. Meet­ings where char­ac­ter­ized by healthy, pro­gres­sive dis­cus­sion, with an over­all sense of co-op­er­a­tion and unity.

New en­ergy

With a new ex­ec­u­tive set to come online on Oct. 30, some see it as a chance to get more towns in­volved in the process. There are scores of new coun­cil­lors in all parts of the re­gion, and the hope is they can get in­volved and bring some­thing dif­fer­ent to the ta­ble.

“Hope­fully, there will be new en­ergy com­ing for­ward from dif­fer­ent towns,” said Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore. “My hope is that they won’t run into any prob­lem get­ting a new ex­ec­u­tive.”

With this new en­ergy, there are sure to be fresh ideas on how towns can con­tinue to work to­gether in the in­ter­est of build­ing the re­gion.

Re­gard­less of who is on the ex­ec­u­tive, Moore said she hopes they will con­tinue to carry on the ini­tia­tives cur­rently be­ing looked at by the coun­cil.

“There was a sense around the ta­ble that they were more in­ter­ested in work­ing to­gether, and hope­fully that is go­ing to con­tinue,” she said.

Cross­ing bound­aries

The CBN joint coun­cil can be a use­ful tool when deal­ing with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially since the area served by the coun­cil in­cludes por­tions of three dif­fer­ent pro­vin­cial dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Har­bour Main, Port de Grave and Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace.

Gov­ern­ment may be more in­clined to look at re­gional is­sues com­ing from a con­cen­trated body of towns rather than on an in­di­vid­ual com­mu­nity ba­sis, ob­servers say.

Dean Franey, a newly elected mem­ber of the Bay Roberts town coun­cil, said he plans on at­tend­ing the meet­ing this week.

“I think it’s some­thing that can be used to our ad­van­tage,” he said.

Com­pass file photo

Car­bon­ear Deputy Mayor Ge­orge Butt is the out­go­ing chair­man of the CBN Joint Coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive.

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