In­ex­pe­ri­ence at the heart of Har­bour Grace mess

The Compass - - OPINION - — Ni­cholas Mercer is a reporter/pho­tog­ra­pher with the Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The Town of Har­bour Grace has been quite a cir­cus th­ese past cou­ple of weeks.

It be­gan with a staffing cri­sis and there ap­pears to be no end in sight. All in all, there has been no short­age of drama and in­trigue com­ing from the Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­nity.

In this week’s edi­tion, we have one coun­cil­lor call­ing for the res­ig­na­tion of Mayor Terry Barnes for a host of trans­gres­sions, in­clud­ing not fol­low­ing due process.

Coun. Gor­don Stone came out early last week with a laun­dry list of rea­sons why Barnes should step down from his po­si­tion and force the town into a by­elec­tion.

The crux of the re­quest re­volves around the afore­men­tioned staffing cri­sis. Har­bour Grace was left in a se­vere lurch when two se­nior town of­fi­cials abruptly re­signed just un­der three weeks ago.

Rea­sons for their de­par­ture are still not known, al­though it seems ev­ery­one has their own opin­ions on the mat­ter.

Ei­ther way you look at it, things are not re­ally good in Har­bour Grace.

With all of its re­cent strug­gles, you get the sense some­thing else is at work there. There is some­thing un­der­neath the con­tro­versy and cat calls.

At the heart of the prob­lems is the in­ex­pe­ri­ence of this ver­sion of coun­cil. Look at it. The coun­cil fea­tures four brand new en­trants into mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics, while the other three have pre­vi­ously served, with Barnes last serv­ing as deputy mayor.

It can be a lot to over­come. Even Barnes has a lot to get used to as the mayor. The po­si­tion of deputy mayor can only pre­pare you for so much. There are bound to be bumps in the road, and a learn­ing curve, when you make that jump.

That’s why this call for Barnes’ res­ig­na­tion is a tad pre­ma­ture. He is still learn­ing what it means to man­age a meet­ing and still ad­just­ing to be­ing the face of the com­mu­nity. While he thinks his heart is in the right place, Coun. Stone is show­ing his in­ex­pe­ri­ence as a new coun­cil­lor.

Un­less the mayor has done some­thing Rob For­dian, there re­ally is no grounds for it.

Take the staffing cri­sis. Re­quest­ing that the process be sped up is not some­thing that needs to be brought up. It should be a given. The town should not con­tinue to op­er­ate with­out a full-time chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for much longer.

Any proac­tive coun­cil­lor would be re­quest­ing this. It’s just the way it is, and the way it should be.

Was his ex­e­cu­tion off? Yes, but his heart was in the right place.

Th­ese new coun­cil­lors have an idea of what a coun­cil should look like, and how it should op­er­ate. But, mu­nic­i­pal level coun­cils do not come with a man­ual, or a how-to guide.

Each is dif­fer­ent, and each have their own set of prac­tices and ways they do things. Sure, the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act pro­vides a set of guide­lines, but for the most part, coun­cils have to find their way.

Coun­cil has to op­er­ate as a unit. It’s the only way for it to func­tion prop­erly.

If there is one rip­ple in the pond, there is go­ing to be tur­bu­lence. It’s in­evitable.

They must learn to work through this in­ex­pe­ri­ence and grow to­gether.

It’s not go­ing to be easy, but they can do it.

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