Friday, May 12, 2017

People ask me why would I serve on a Municipal Council?

People often ask me why would anyone want to serve on Town Council and do a job that everyone perceives to be a thankless?

They ask me how do you handle dealing with so many people always pulling you in different directions and often criticizing every move the town makes? Why would anyone want to be called out publicly at every turn and blamed in many cases for things that may or may not be your fault?

My answer has always been that I don't mind all that stuff, it is what I signed up for. I don't mind being stopped at the gas station, corner store, grocery store or even have people waiting for me in my driveway. My family has turned into my secretaries answering the many calls that come to my house and I had to upgrade my cellular plan because i was always going over my minutes. My email box is always full and my schedule is jammed packed all the time.

I have had some time over the past couple of days to reflect on all of these questions and many others like is it really worth the time commitment necessary to do the best you can for the town.

I am happy to say YES!! YES, it is worth the effort, time and sacrifice you and your family need to make in order to do this job right.

Just this past Wednesday which was Municipal Awareness Day I believe we had one of the single greatest days in the Town of Torbay that I can remember. It was a day in which thousands of hours of emails, phone calls, meetings and more meetings culminated in a mass of good news for the Town of Torbay.

We unveiled the new home of the Torbay History House and Museum, or the Priest House as we often refer to it This is a project that has been a couple of years in the making but we finally got it done and it will be a great asset to the town when it is renovated and finally opened.

We have entered into a Municipal Enforcement Partnership with the Town of Portugal Cove - St Phillips and the Commissionaires on a one year pilot project to provide security services to both Towns.

Then we signed a mutual aid agreement between Torbay, Pouch Cove and Portugal Cove - St Phillips Fire Departments. This will enable us to offer greater fire protection to those three towns as well as Flatrock who are serviced by our volunteer fire departments. This is a terrific example of how we can work together in our region to offer better services to residents. I would really like to thank the Chiefs of all three fire departments for getting this long overdue agreement done.

Immediately after signing the Mutual Aid Agreement we proceed to the Fire Hall to officially receive the keys to our new Fire Rescue Vehicle. This is a tremendous piece of equipment which will serve the Town of Torbay and Flatrock for many years to come.

If all that wasn't enough we then proceed to officially cut the ribbon on our new municipal depot. This is a state of the art facility that will allow the town to offer a safe work place for our employees and help improve services to residents. This project was first identified in 2008 and has been on councils radar for a long time. It was one of the first jobs that Mayor Tapper tasked our Public Works Committee (Carol Ann Smith, Director of Public Works Bernie Manning and myself) along with CAO Dawn Chaplin to get done. The first thing we did was identify an appropriate piece of land then we negotiated with the owner to purchase it. Once that was done we could see the the path forward for this project. That doesn't mean we could snap our fingers and it was done but we were on the right road, sometimes bumpy but we kept chugging along. I was particularly proud of this announcement as I have been involved with it from the beginning first as a member of Public Works Committee and for the past couple of years as Chair.

Finally to round out the day we had a grade 4 class in from Holy Trinity Elementary to have a mock council meeting. This was truly a highlight of the day to observe these young children wade through the jungle that is municipal politics. They were thoughtful and insightful in their questions and I am sure they had a great time as was evident from the smiles on their faces.

I never really gave much thought to the significance of these announcements we made Wednesday. I just see them as a logical conclusion to many hours of hard work and dedication by members of council and staff. That was until Minister Eddie Joyce commented during the Depot opening that most municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador would have been delighted to be able to make any one of our announcements. And here we were making 4 or 5 major announcements to benefit the residents of the Town of Torbay and our entire region.

If these announcements we made on Wednesday were the only things that this particular council had gotten done it would be a tremendous success by any measure. But it isn't, we have through the course of this term managed to build more trails then ever before. We have done more road work than i have ever seen and even constructed our first significant sidewalk. There are many other major steps we have taken which are too many to mention. We have a new sports clubhouse constructed in Upper three Corner Park which will open soon and to top it all off we have gone to tender on our new Community and Wellness Center.

So, with all this in mind when people ask me is it worth it to serve on a municipal council?

My answer is this. If you think you have something to offer and believe in your community then you should step forward and be part of the solution. Put your time and talent into working with others for the good of the entire community. The pay off at the end of the day is tremendous, you can not replicate the pride I felt in the Town of Torbay on Wednesday as we showcased for the entire province how far we have come in less than 4 short years. We are a town that other towns are looking at and saying Wow! that is where we want to be.

Does that mean everything is perfect? No it is far from perfect and we still have some major work to do but I will leave that for another day.

For today I would just like to recognize the hard work that was put in by our council and staff but especially those who will not be seeking reelection in September, it has been my pleasure to serve with you.


1 comment:

  1. Coming from someone who knows the current mayor of Torbay very well, and have a slight idea of what it takes to do the job, I certainly hope you throw your hat in the ring!


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