Over the eight year period I’ve been a Councilor, I learned more about Torbay than I did in the rest of my lifetime. At the same time I gained tremendous experience within the Council Chamber and within our community dealing with our residents and their issues. I love my community and have seen positive initiatives occur, but many more vital goals are taking far too long to accomplish. I feel I can do the job by bringing a different perspective to the Mayor’s office. There are many major issues facing our Town. A new Mayor and Council must provide as much information as possible to our residents before crucial decisions are made which would dramatically impact our town for many years to come. Quite frankly I believe consultation between the current Mayor and Councilors, and between Council and our residents, is sadly lacking and this has to change!
For example, are you aware:
On July 12, 2011 Deputy Mayor Gallant presented a motion which I seconded: “that the Town of Torbay shall open the Chamber floor to members of the public for a 15 minute question and answer period after all Public Council Meetings”. The Mayor was the only member of Council who voted against this motion and even though it was a ruling by the majority of Council which all have to abide by, he and one other Councilor have never stayed for one these forums. Their reasoning - they were elected to make decisions on behalf of residents.
On August 23, 2010, I presented a motion, seconded by Deputy Mayor Gallant: “that the Town of Torbay plan a Council-staff session to discuss development within the Town of Torbay”. This motion was carried unanimously. However, due to unavailability of some members of Council causing scheduling problems, these meetings never did occur even though it was raised months later at the May16th and 30th, 2011 meetings. A similar motion by Councilor Roche was passed unanimously at the June 13th meeting, and I continued bringing the issue up through 2012. On June 11, 2012, Deputy Mayor then presented yet another motion: “that the Town dedicate all remaining off-Monday nights of 2012 to strategic planning sessions until Council is satisfied that all strategic planning is completed”. This motion was unfortunately defeated by the Mayor and three Councilors. Where was the leadership to make sure all of Council cleared their schedules to attend these important sessions? It should have been made mandatory! Then early in July after our CAO identified over a dozen important outstanding issues that needed immediate attention, an attempt was made to meet on off-Monday evenings until the election. We met twice with only a slight majority of Council present. Now no more meetings are scheduled until the new Council is elected, again due to the lack of availability.
One other very important note as a related example on lack of consultation - after all of the opportunities to meet with Council as a whole which did not materialize, on May 22, 2013 the Mayor and our CAO met with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, his staff and our MHA, to discuss the most vital issue facing our town - our lack of water servicing. At that meeting it was recommended the same group later meet with the Mayor of St. John’s and his staff to address the issue on a regional level. That meeting was held on June 20, 2013. Before either of these meetings took place, who finalized the town’s position and options? Why wasn’t the rest of Council consulted? This is my major concern. That’s not the style of leadership we need to achieve planned, sustainable growth!
On June 14, 2010, Councilor Smith presented a motion seconded by Councilor Roche and carried unanimously: “for all future Comprehensive Plans, the Town of Torbay will hold information sessions with area residences, to present the plans. This will allow residents to view and provide comments on the proposed plans”. These plans would allow property owners to see for themselves how the town could determine the future of their land development. To date only one of these meetings was scheduled and held on April 4th, 2012, and chaired by the Chair of the Planning & Development, Councilor Smith. On Sept. 4th, 2012 I questioned the time frame for other concept plans which we were told were revised, but public meetings are still pending, one year later. Again where is the leadership to get this done to allow residents to have their say, especially private property owners impacted by these Town plans?
On October 29, 2012 (two months before the budget deadline date), as Chair of the Finance Committee I made the following motion: “That the Town of Torbay hold a public meeting within the next couple of weeks concerning the upcoming budget…”. The Mayor and three Councilors voted against this motion so it was defeated. If other towns and cities can consult with their citizens regarding their budgets, why can’t we? Even the Feds and the province do pre-budget consultations.
Clearly, lack of strong leadership was the key element impacting all of the above.
I firmly believe eight consecutive years is long enough in any political position. I am therefore giving residents of Torbay another option on the ballot and it will be their determination if my past record is worthy of their vote and I can assure everyone that councilors and residents will be given every opportunity to present their views. I ask you to please take a little more time to read my profile to find out more about me and my list of platform issues that Torbay is facing.