For City Councillors, “A word to the wise should suffice”

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Thunder Bay City Hall
City Hall - photo by Derek Silver
THUNDER BAY – In some ways, it might be that it is summer. In other ways it might be that the next civic election is still over three years away. No matter what the reason, increasingly over the past seven weeks, many members of Thunder Bay City Council seem to be taking the summer equivilent of a long winter’s nap. Increasingly over the summer, residents have remarked to me that their efforts to contact members of Council are coming up empty.

The concerns raised by residents over the decision to spend almost a million dollars on the “Twin Sticks” at Marina Park have seemingly been ignored by many Councillors. Some readers have shared that telephone calls to Councillors are not being returned.

That any resident of Thunder Bay doesn’t receive a response from our Councillors is a symptom that change is needed.

In today’s world, where information travels in nano-seconds, not responding to an email from a resident, is a demonstration either that some council members don’t care, or that there are so many concerns that no one could be expected to keep up.

Perhaps the solution might be found by changing Council’s structure?

What if we reduced the size of Council, and made it six Councillors and the Mayor. Instead of wards, all the Councillors would be elected as At-Large representatives.

Some might feel that six Councillors is plenty, as according to comments from some of our readers, that is about the number of current Councillors who are taking the time to respond to the residents. That might sound harsh, after all it is summer, and several Councillors are busy in the community, and are listening to residents.

Shrinking the size of Council, would save money.

Those savings would then be used to raise the pay of the six Councillors and Mayor. Our elected representatives would be full-time employees. Some change would have to be made at City Hall, as these full time Councillors would then need office space at City Hall. There would also be a need for a receptionist, who could work as a liasion co-ordinator for Councillors.

Residents in Thunder Bay deserve that the people that they have choosen as their representatives are responding to their concerns. What is sad is that those Councillors who are not bothering to respond to residents are painting a very poor picture of our city and building negativity and cynical attitudes.

Thunder Bay is doing so much better on so many levels. One might think all members of Council would be interested in riding that wave.

What is positive is that in today’s world, growing numbers of people are no longer sitting back and merely taking it. They are sharing their concerns via email, others are starting to record votes. It is very likely should the trends continue, that come 2014 and the next civic election, there will be a voter inspired renovation of City Council in Thunder Bay.

For those members of City Council who are responding to residents, keep it up. To those who are not, as my Grandmother used to say, “A word to the wise should suffice”.

For those Councillors who are keeping up the good work, keep it up. Voters and residents will remember.

That of course is just my opinion, as always your mileage may vary.

James Murray