Town halls planned for South Kent
Municipal councillors in South Kent have turned to a more traditional way of engaging constituents throughout their term – the town-hall meeting.
Ward 2 Coun. Trevor Thompson said he had thought about hosting these events for a while so, soon after the October municipal election, he met with his colleagues Clare Latimer and Anthony Ceccacci, both rookies on council, to discuss the idea.
“It was something they were very interested in as well so, at that point, it just became trying to figure out the details,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to encourage transparency and communication. I think the online way that we do it these days is good, but not everybody uses it or not everybody gets a chance to get that one-on-one connection.”
The meetings will be held quarterly at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 185 in Blenheim beginning Feb. 12, followed by May 7, Aug. 6 and Nov. 5. All four events will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Thompson, who was elected to his second term, said voters did not specifically ask for a townhall forum, but there has been a push for more conversations.
He said since he works full-time jobs, he can’t be the “coffee-shop councillor” others have been.
“This is an opportunity to bring some of that one-on-one conversation into the work I do and, at the same time, bring all of the councillors together to get more of a non-partisan – I’ll put it – appeal,” he said.
The first few meetings will probably have an informal approach, said Thompson. Municipal staff may be invited to other meetings if residents ask to hear them speak on a certain issue, he said.
Thompson said they chose to have all of the town halls in Blenheim because it is a “central” location in the ward, but they could be held in different communities such as Erieau and Charing Cross in 2020 if the demand is there.
“It’s a really good opportunity to learn what’s going on in the ward for us and it’s a good opportunity for residents to learn what’s going on with the municipality,” said Thompson. “I’m excited to get this up and off the ground. I hope we get some traction in the community because, if we don’t, it will stagnate and that’s not what I want to happen”