Robin answers the big questions on voters’ minds. She talks waste water management, council meeting procedure, improving communication and what she will do differently.
Question: You mentioned on August 1 when you announced that you are running for Mayor that you are working on arranging a meeting between the company who installed our waste water system, the Village and the engineering firm currently contracted by the Village. Is there an update?
Answer: Since that time, I met with the Director of the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that I had a clear understanding of the legislation and their regulatory role. I have also met with the Executive Vice-President of the company that designed, installed and oversaw the operation of the Snowfluent system until 2008. Further, I have arranged and will be attending the meeting between the parties. It is my expectation that all parties, including the Village of Westport, will share information with each other that will provide solutions to the current challenges.
You were not at the monthly Council meeting on August 18th and neither the Mayor nor any Councillors acknowledged your absence. Can you explain?
At the end of the July Council meeting, the Clerk informed Council that he had booked his holidays in August and would be unavailable to attend the Council meeting on the 11th. There was a discussion by the Clerk, Councillors and Mayor to set another date. August 18th was agreed to by the rest of Council and the Clerk, although under protest from me as I would be out of the country and not available. As Council meeting dates are posted in January, I expressed concerns, particularly at this point in time with so many important issues before Council, about last minute changes that would result in not all Councillors being able to attend. I was assured by the Mayor that major money decisions have never been made at a Council Meeting unless all Members of Council are able to attend and that would be the case for the August meeting.
It seems that Council is making decisions without debate or discussion and when they do not have all of the information. Surely the company that put the waste water system in will have some information or advice for the Village. What is your position on this and how can public be assured that Council will share information with us if you are elected Mayor?
I agree that the information shared by the Village to the public and Councillors alike, has been limited. It was necessary for me to place the waste water treatment system on the May Council Agenda and several items on the June Council Agenda so that answers and information could be provided. During the June meeting, I led the discussion with the Clerk that provided a chronology of the past events in relation to the Snowfluent system. This was an opportunity for the public to hear what had occurred.
The cornerstone of my mayoral election platform is leadership – I am a proven, strong, respectful leader with strong management skills and am a strong communicator. I value integrity, accountability and transparency, which means that the public is entitled to know what is happening at Town Hall. This is your village, it is our village. I believe that information should be shared unless there is a bona fide or legal reason not to.
Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is in “real time” and the Village simply needs to do a better job ensuring that information is made available by timely and full disclosure.
It doesn’t appear that the Council spends much effort listening to the concerns of the public and lake associations? As Mayor, what would you do differently?
I recognize the strong role of Stakeholders and understand the need for relationships between them and Mayor & Councillors. The impact of information provided by Stakeholders is evidenced by their wider viewpoints, their expertise and just plain old wisdom. As Mayor, it will be a priority to establish relationships with all Stakeholder groups, providing a solid base built on respect and understanding before any issues arise.