Something has been bugging me since I was elected in October 2017. Why are residents waiting until the bitter end to voice their concerns on bylaw changes and Council matters? Why aren’t you emailing your Councillors when you have questions, or concerns, or issues, or even rants? We would be thrilled to actually hear from you.
Since I’ve been on Black Diamond Council, there have been three bylaws that have caused public outcry; the change to the water rates, the smoking bylaw and the increase to the sewer rates. We did have a large showing of residents for the initial water rate increase but most of the audience was silent. Council voted against the original plan to increase commercial water rates. There was still an increase but a much smaller one in comparison to the initial rate plan that was presented to Council.
Then there was the smoking bylaw, which was required so our Peace Officers would have something to go on should public marijuana consumption become a problem after legalization. We had a handful of citizens show up to the council meeting but no one stayed until the end, so no one heard the discussion.
Most recently, there was the sewer rate increase. No one came speak to Council at that initial meeting. I even wrote a blog post about it explaining the increase and the reasoning behind it because I figured any rate increase is bound to cause some contention among citizens. One person asked a question of Council at the final reading meeting then, not a peep; not until early March 2019 when the January/February utility bills came out.
I have to say, the final reading of the bylaw is not the time to voice your concerns. These bylaws take many hours to write; not always in-house either. The water and sewer rates required engineering consultants and came with a decent sized bill. (Those are yours and my tax dollars). The time to notice is during the public engagement part of bylaw enactment. That’s after the first reading but before the last. Town of Black Diamond administration will post the proposed bylaw here immediately following the meeting that included the first reading. Then, residents have two to three weeks to read it and make their comments, to voice their concerns.
Did you know that councillors can’t enter into a debate during question period if the topic is on the agenda for that meeting? Well, we can’t. It’s in our Procedure Bylaw 16-06.
So if you’re feeling ignored during question period in a Council meeting, it’s not so. We hear you, we just aren’t supposed to comment or debate a topic if it’s on that meeting’s agenda. We will debate it when the topic comes up on the agenda; NOT DURING QUESTION PERIOD! So don’t leave right after you pose your question if you want to hear what we have to say.
When your Council was sworn in, each Councillor agreed to put the interests of the residents and rate payers of the whole municipality above personal interests. That’s in the Code of Conduct Bylaw 17-13.
According to the Municipal Government Act (Div 3 153), the general duties of councillors are:
(a) to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and to bring to council’s attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality;
(a.1) to promote an integrated and strategic approach to intermunicipal land use planning and service delivery with neighbouring municipalities;
(b) to participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality;
(c) to participate in council meetings and council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by the council;
(d) to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer or a person designated by the chief administrative officer;
(e) to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public;
(e.1) to adhere to the code of conduct established by the council under section 146.1(1);
(f) to perform any other duty or function imposed on councillors by this or any other enactment or by the council.
RSA 2000 cM-26 s153;2015 c8 s17;2016 c24 s15
I’m not supposed to speak for my fellow councillors but I don’t see any of them shirking their duties, responsibilities or ignoring the oaths they took.
I want to hear from constituents. I want to present your ideas and concerns to Council. What I will not do is engage in dialogue on Facebook forums. If you want to private message me on Facebook that is one thing, but do not expect me to comment or respond on open forums. I read ’em but getting chewed out online does not suit my temperament. Call me cowardly, lazy or whatever you want but I will not respond on Facebook.
Instead, email me at email@example.com or better yet text me (don’t call) on my personal cell at 403-921-2811.
I want to hear what you have to say; just don’t bait me on Facebook because I won’t take it.