Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Monday Council session Another Missed Opportunity for Information sharing

Mayor Lee Brain used some of the rather short Monday City Council session to reprise some of his comments of last week on a new communication strategy for Council, taking the final few minutes of City Council's fifteen minutes of the Regular session to review his talking points on the city's water infrastructure themes.

"I did a few interviews last week about the water system and one of the commitments that I made publicly was to begin a monthly update on the water supply progress until the project is fully completed. 

And so when Mr. Buchan gets into his new role would like to see him start to potentially in the November with the first update  ... even if there is no progress to report on, or only slight progress I would like to make sure that Council is being able to fully address the water system project.

Everything is fully funded, the project is moving forward. Phase Two will be coming to completion there's some heavy rainfall issues so there may be delays up to potentially April 2022, most likely will be before then. We'll have Operations prepare a report for Council in November around the progress on that.

But everything is looking good to have this project be completed in a timely manner and  see us reconnected to the main water source.

So that being said, we're also going to set up a web page on the city website that will be specifically for the water system and there will be current status information on that site  as well. 

So that people no matter which way you go,  you'll always be able to get the information you're looking for. 

Just so we can make sure that folks are being fully communicated to on where the situation with the water supply is at.

We've done various videos and  things over the last six years. But at this point the project is just in motion bow and needs to come to full construction and there's not much else that can be done other that make sure that we're  communicating properly with the community on the status of the project.

So that is something that we're committing to. -- Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain at Monday evening's Council Session

The dedication towards more accountability and transparency is welcome and should be applauded by the public; though in this instance introduction of such a useful archive on the project would probably have been better introduced at its start, as opposed towards the end of the much delayed construction phase.

However, hopefully the City doesn't throw away that template upon the completion of the Water dam construction cycle. 

Such an item of accountability could be used for all of the other Civic initiatives that are currently underway, or will be moving forward in the months and years to come.

The Mayor's overview of the path ahead can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive starting at just after  the 22 minute mark.

Since the evening was such a short affair, the opportunity for some more expanded discussion on current topics of note for the community was there, but other than some well deserved praise for the local arts community and another review of the road painting situation in the community, the councillors didn't seem to be in any rush to take on new topics.

With what was seemingly set to be a short night to begin with, Council members could have asked for some of the City Staff to be on hand to answer any questions on themes of ongoing infrastructure for areas such as the landfill on Ridley Island, the pace of their plans for their Waterfront plans, the ongoing evolution of Watson Island and if any new tenants are on the horizon, or an update on how the downtown strategy is moving forward since the adoption of the new Official Community Plan.  

As part of a follow up to the Financial Variance report of the night, Council could have explored the plan for staffing for the Airport manager's position, or even just have mentioned that the position was open, the departure of the previous Manager Rick Leach still a topic no one at City Hall has made mention of. 

And since they have put a renewed focus on housing, the Council membership could have provided an updated sketch for the community as to whether any of the proposed housing projects in the last few years are making any headway towards a start.

With few items on the Agenda, they could have even offered up an opportunity for an update on the Legacy Fund and how the City has made use of that financial instrument this year.

And since some of the Council members made note of their attendance at the Lester Centre over the weekend for the highly acclaimed mini film festival, an update on when we may see a return to in person Council sessions was another theme that they could have addressed.

Considering, the rather low rate of COVID in the region, it remains somewhat puzzling that as more and more public gathering events open up around the city; the Council Chamber remains empty of its elected officials who continue to meet by way of Video participation.

As long as the Council membership are double vaccinated and follow any civic protocols in place at City Hall, the Mayor and Council, should give some thought to returning to the Council chamber, which may spur on a more spirited review of issues for the public.

Or at least, they may wish to explain why such in person work can't resume.

However, as Monday came to an end less than half an hour after they had logged onto their Zoom Screens, the most recent review of civic business had come to an end.

The new era of expanded communication set to wait for another day.

You can review the topics that were discussed on Monday from our Council Timeline Feature here

A look at the notes from previous council sessions can be explored through our Council Discussion archive.

1 comment:

  1. It's the most basic expectation that voters have of a politician: I voted for you now go do what you said you would do.

    In 2014 Lee Brain proposed three ways to create a transparent and open government.

    - Have a weekly column via print media or electronically
    - Host a monthly public town hall meeting
    - Send out a monthly email / social media newsletter

    2014 NR Article - More transparency, more town halls the call from the Lee Brain campaign

    Fast forward to 2021, The Water Project is well underway and after hundreds of days of boil water advisories. You now commit to monthly project updates.

    Diem sero, et una mina breva