Good Governance

Updated: Aug 24

What does Good Governance of our Township mean?

We want McNab/Braeside to be safe, clean, and active. Taxation rates can be fair but we need to work hard to keep them as low as possible while delivering necessary services such as road maintenance, and other services that improve local quality of life like recreation programs.

All five of your elected representatives make the final decisions but they will only be sound decisions if there is effective communication with the public, active listening, and a robust Committee structure. Most of these principles of Good Governance have been absent in McNab/Braeside for the last eight years. I would like to explain how it can be better.

Effective Communication

It is unfathomable that the largest project ever contemplated by the Township was kept almost completely under wraps for three years until a CTV News Ottawa story broke after the current Mayor made a presentation to Lanark County Public Works to encourage them to commit to send their waste to us. I have yet to meet anybody outside of the current Council and staff who knew that this was even in the works, let alone how far along the project was. This plant has been scheduled to be operational by the end of 2024 according to statements the current Mayor has made to the media. At the Sustane presentation August 18th, it appears that this is being pushed back to 2025 for several reasons. The one plant that they have continues to experience serious technical issues.

How did this happen? A presentation was made by the current Mayor to McNab/Braeside Council in August of 2020 outlining what Sustane Technologies was about, and it was only accepted as information. No motion was passed authorizing him to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sustane Technologies nor with other municipalities to send their waste here, which would have been the proper and transparent way of going about it. Not only were these MOUs signed subsequently without Council approval, there was no tender process which is in violation of our own By-laws with respect to procurement.

The next time this topic made it to a Council agenda was over a year and a half later when a majority of Council passed a motion on May 24th, 2022 authorizing the current Mayor to continue to seek out and sign more MOUs with more municipalities. He had already made presentations to numerous other jurisdictions so this motion was being made in hindsight for some unexplained reason. This is clearly improper governance.

All agendas and minutes are posted on the township website, but this is a shocking example of how important information is easily missed by residents. The vast majority of residents don't go to council meetings. More effective means of communication are needed and I will provide them. As Mayor, I will initiate a monthly email newsletter that includes significant developments that are on the horizon so that interested and concerned citizens can be aware of what is happening and have an opportunity to express their views. The public has a right to know how their Township is being shaped and should have plenty of opportunity for input. This newsletter would also include a section on what's happening in the Township since not everybody is on Facebook and sometimes it is difficult to navigate the website to find interesting recreational events that may be of interest.

Proactive Listening

Politicians focus on the issues that concern residents when they're deciding how to vote, but many important issues come up later. I want you to know how I would lead Council. I would like you to know how I would lead Council so that we can make the best decisions on the issues that will come to Council over the next four years that we may not be aware of right now. Key for me is making sure residents are fully informed and have various ways available to them to contribute to the conversation.

In the first year of the four-year term, I will host quarterly Town Halls to cover topics that would shape the strategic direction of the Township moving forward. Currently, residents can go to a Council meeting and ask questions at the end regarding any topic that happened to be on that agenda. While this is useful and would be continued, it falls short. In Town Halls, residents can ask questions or express opinions on any topic without being limited.

At all times, you can email me or any other Councillor as you see fit or approach Council or one of its Committees as a delegation.

Robust Committee Structure

When I was a Councillor here from 2014 to 2018, I checked with Ministry officials and confirmed that McNab/Braeside was the only municipality out of the 444 in Ontario that had no Councillors on any Committees. That pattern continues to this day. The exception is the obligatory Planning Committee which is comprised of all five Councillors. I argued vociferously against this to no avail. I am running for Mayor in part to correct this. The Mayor has the authority to create Committees and instead of essentially one Committee of five doing everything, I will name Councillors Chairs of Committees that cover all policy topics. These committees will develop recommendations, with final decisions still being made by the full council. This is how the majority of other Ontario councils operate and it works far better than what we have now.

Personally, I would Chair the Finance Committee. For the final Committee structure, I would seek input from all other Councillors and staff. Preferably, I would like to see co-Chairs of all Committees with a qualified member of the public as one of the co-Chairs. We have many skilled and qualified residents who can help in this regard. Some Committees can have more than one Councillor and would be populated largely of residents, business owners and I would encourage youth participation. Staff as always, would provide support and since they are professional municipal managers, they help guide decisions in ways that comply with regulations and best practices.

Thanks for reading this and as always, please feel free to send me your thoughts and comments.