Proud mile­stone for coun­cil

Women’s in­flu­ence at coun­cil ta­ble topic of dis­cus­sion at cham­ber busi­ness lun­cheon

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NEWS - LEN GILLIS

The fact that Tim­mins city coun­cil for the first time has three women — the most it has ever had — was the topic of a busi­ness lun­cheon hosted by the Tim­mins cham­ber of com­merce Wed­nes­day.

and if the re­marks made a day after the in­au­gu­ral meet­ing is any in­di­ca­tion, things may be done a bit dif­fer­ently around the coun­cil ta­ble from now on.

It feels good but also I feel like it shouldn’t be such a big deal. It is a re­ally big deal, but it shouldn’t be be­cause half the pop­u­la­tion is fe­male.” Michelle Boileau

That was part of the con­sen­sus at a spe­cial net­work­ing lunch hosted by the cham­ber of com­merce which show­cased the women in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics and gave city res­i­dents an op­por­tu­nity to find out more about who they are and what ideas they rep­re­sent.

coun­cil­lors michelle boileau, Kristin mur­ray and Noella ri­naldo were in the hot seats and pep­pered with ques­tions for nearly an hour.

cham­ber chief ad­min­is­tra­tor Kei­tha rob­son, who was the key in­quisi­tor, put a pointed ques­tion to the group.

“do women do pol­i­tics dif­fer­ently?” asked rob­son.

The first an­swer was in­stant. “def­i­nitely,” said coun. ri­naldo.

The room broke out in laugh­ter.

“i would like to say it is in our na­ture to look at the big pic­ture and the de­tails at the same time,” said ri­naldo.

she said male politi­cians tend to seg­re­gate the way they work. she said they might look at the big pic­ture on one level and then look at the de­tails on an­other level, and don’t see them to­gether.

“No of­fence to any of the men in the room, we just look at things a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ently,” ri­naldo said.

coun. mur­ray picked up on that con­cil­ia­tory note.

“it’s not a level of dis­re­spect, but you know when you have that male-fe­male bal­ance you get kind of a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of a lot of things,” she said.

“you know we have a dif­fer­ent way of think­ing and pro­cess­ing so it is not a bad thing, but i think it is im­por­tant there are more fe­males on coun­cil be­cause things will be looked at in a dif­fer­ent way.”

coun. boileau was asked how it feels to be part of the mile­stone in terms of fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion on coun­cil.

“Oh, it feels awe­some!” said boileau. “it feels good but also i feel like it shouldn’t be such a big deal. it is a re­ally big deal, but it shouldn’t be be­cause half the pop­u­la­tion is fe­male.

“and so this should just be a nor­mal thing for every­one. it shouldn’t be such a mile­stone, but it is, so i am very proud to have been part of it.”

On the same topic, ri­naldo said in pre­vi­ous coun­cils, she was pleased to be part of the group but al­ways had the feel­ing that women were not be­ing com­pletely rep­re­sented. she added it was same with the age dif­fer­ence and she is glad that younger can­di­dates have stepped up to rep­re­sent the city.

mur­ray said she and boileau were in the city coun­cil cham­ber look­ing at the pho­to­graphs of pre­vi­ous coun­cil mem­bers. she said it was “pretty eye­open­ing” that his­tor­i­cally there were so few women on pre­vi­ous coun­cils.

“i think there are a lot of em­pow­ered women in the com­mu­nity but maybe not em­pow­ered enough to take that big leap to run for city coun­cil,” said mur­ray.

The can­di­dates were also asked what one achieve­ment or goal is there for them that will be their mea­sure of suc­cess on city coun­cil.

mur­ray, who iden­ti­fied her­self as an indige­nous per­son, said she is al­ready work­ing on an arts and cul­ture project, some­thing she had men­tioned dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign.

she re­vealed she had ap­plied for a grant from the On­tario arts coun­cil for a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion themed art project.

“The premise of it is that el­ders would share their teach­ings, and youth would de­pict those teach­ings in mu­rals through­out our city,” mur­ray ex­plained.

“so i did get the fund­ing and i am re­ally look­ing at en­gag­ing busi­nesses to be a part of that.

it would be done in a good way. We would make sure that ev­ery­thing is very taste­ful.

“i need to ac­com­plish that. i think by hav­ing a per­ma­nent mark by youth and an indige­nous per­spec­tive on things and just the arts and cul­ture, i would be very happy.”

ri­naldo said she would shoot for the “pie in the sky” and that her mea­sure of suc­cess would be com­mit­ting to hav­ing a new swim­ming pool for the city.

“i re­ally think that as a city we haven’t in­vested enough in in­fras­truc­ture and if we want to bring busi­ness here, we have to show that we have the con­fi­dence in build­ing our own in­fras­truc­ture,” she said.

ri­naldo said that re­al­is­ti­cally she ex­pected it would be five or six years be­fore any­one would see the shovel in the ground, mean­ing that the new pool or aquatic cen­tre could be eight to 10 years away.

“and i am hop­ing that if the fund­ing is there, that we re­ally do go ahead with the pool be­cause we will need one and i can­not see us five years from now be­ing a city with­out a pool.”

her com­ments were met with ap­plause from many in the au­di­ence.

boileau said there were many goals and pos­si­bil­i­ties, but her fo­cus was post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion.

“i hope i can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on a lot of things. One thing i would like to see at the end of the term is more ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings in Tim­mins,” she said.

“Keep­ing our youth here, at­tract­ing more peo­ple here and i think by work­ing with the post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions that are al­ready here and invit­ing more to come in terms of dif­fer­ent ca­pac­i­ties, i think that would be a great thing.

“and i think that is a role for a mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil to play in all of that, just en­cour­ag­ing post-se­condary in­sti­tu­tions to see a value in Tim­mins, and see the po­ten­tial in Tim­mins,” she added.

boileau also said in­clud­ing more recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties and be­ing more wel­com­ing to the indige­nous pop­u­la­tion would also make the city more at­trac­tive to post-se­condary in­sti­tu­tions.

LEN GILLIS/THE DAILY PRESS

With Tim­mins now hav­ing three women elected to the nine-mem­ber city coun­cil, it marks a mile­stone for lo­cal pol­i­tics. The Tim­mins Cham­ber of Com­merce hosted city coun­cil­lors Michelle Boileau, left, Noella Ri­naldo and Kristin Mur­ray for a lunch Wed­nes­day and to ques­tion them on their pri­or­i­ties for the next four years on coun­cil.

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