In less than a year, the same people who asked for your vote, professing a passion for the job and who expressed the desire to represent the public, now sit silently allowing their citizens to be mistreated at a council meeting – their meeting, a public meeting. At a time when we need leadership, with an eye to knowing how to represent the people, our council failed us – every one of them!
Recently, the citizens’ group SAVE PICTON BAY was before council to make a deputation regarding Picton Terminal. Their deputation was cut short and they were told to leave by the “acting” CAO (who is really the pubic works commissioner) for using language that was “problematic in the context of the procedural bylaws” and for using “unparliamentary language.” All in all, pretty lame and vague excuses for evicting a citizens group, when you consider the words that caused Mr. McAuley all this angst were the words “aggressive” and “illegal.” According to one news report, McAuley was also concerned with comments made about the law suit involving the Picton Terminal – he claimed the municipality couldn’t discuss it.
The interim CAO failed to recognize that the citizens’ group is not the municipality and that they had every right to discuss it – council only needed to listen. After all, SPB are the ones who have recently received a favourable court decision appealing their claim of possible illegal zoning and uses. It is without question that the Terminal operation has violated environmental rules in the past and were at the center of the oil spill from the barge last year. Many of the residents involved in SPB are people who have been impacted by the pollution and noise from the Terminal – and not forgetting too that Picton’s water supply comes from a pipe located in 8 feet of water, not far from the terminal – SPB have legitimate concerns and our council needed to hear them. My question is, where are our elected representatives during all of this controversy? Why did they sit idlily by while their citizens and taxpayers were being scolded like children by an unqualified bureaucrat? Where is Council’s sense of caring for their citizens? Where is the leadership? Do any of our councillors understand what their job is?
Who was chairing this council meeting and why didn’t he impose the rules, if indeed there were any rules broken? In my opinion, Mr. McAuley had no authority nor the right to end the deputation. He is staff, not an elected politician and if anyone was to enforce the Procedural Bylaws or Parliamentary Rules of Order, then that is the mayor’s job. The CAO was out of order – not the citizens!
If citizens can be barred from the Council Chambers for undemocratic behavior, then why can’t citizens ask Council to leave when guilty of the same offence – like implementing a council restructuring model that neither the citizens, nor council approved of when surveyed? Despite now being 14 strong, our Council is no better off for their jerry-rigging attempt at downsizing – and obviously neither are we!
Every citizen should be treated with respect at Shire Hall, and our council not only failed to do this, none of them even tried.