Breath of fresh air

Written by Submitted

The report is 80 pages long and the recommendations number 37.
It’s a stinging rebuke of how the Town of Coronation’s council has been performing their duties.  The report authored by Harold Johnsrude Consulting Ltd., under the direction of Municipal Affairs, concluded that the Town had been “governed in an improper and irregular manner”.
‘Improper’ because of councillor conduct.  ‘Irregular’ because there are numerous contraventions of the Municipal Government Act (MGA).
The reviewer said there was strong evidence that council did not know their role and have spent too much time micro-managing– consumed with ‘administrivia’ with emphasis on ‘trivia’—rather than strategic planning and building of cooperative relationships with other municipal partners and volunteers.
But Coronation Town councillors were also commended for requesting this review and for fully cooperating in all aspects of the inspection.
The list of ‘thou shalt not do’ was lengthy.
No more abuse of ‘in-camera’ privileges. Numerous examples of items discussed behind closed doors were highlighted, including budgets, which clearly contravened the MGA. The reviewer commented that it appeared conducting private conversations became habitual, which this newspaper can certainly attest to.
As elected officials, they are responsible not for themselves but for the “whole”.  Hiding away from the public and press coverage is for the private sector — not the taxpayer-funded public sector.
Municipal elections are this October.
For anyone seeking to run for elected office, and this applies to all elected boards, it is critical to start attending council/board meetings now.  Potential candidates need to read, study and understand the legislative act that governs the body for which you intend to run. They need to know the difference between governance and administration. The learning curve is steep, start now.  These jobs are not easy, they are not free-for-alls, or buddy parties.  Strict rules of responsibility and conduct apply and transparency is absolutely critical.
The Municipal Inspection Report on the Town of Coronation is a great case study on everything that should not be done as an elected official.  It must be mandatory reading for anyone seeking a Coronation Council position this fall.
In fact, it should be mandatory reading for all town residents as well. Indirectly they bear some of the responsibility for Coronation’s dismal report card. They are the ones who voted for the councillors in the first place, and they are the ones that should have attended enough council meetings over the past three years to know what was happening.
It doesn’t take too many meetings to identify the group dynamics, the clicks, the bullies, the micro-managers, the team-players, the self-serving ones or those working for the public good.  Knowing these things makes a citizen an informed voter.
Much work needs to be done to improve the Coronation situation, but this report card is a great start.  Now it will be incumbent upon the newly elected council to ensure that these 37 recommendations never collect dust, but become action items and a road map for proper procedures and behaviours in the future.
As for the press, this report is a breath of fresh air. The enactment of these recommendations is being met with great anticipation that we will once again be better able to do our job of keeping the public well informed.
A copy of the Municipal Inspections Report can be picked up at Coronation Town Office.

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