Enterprise councillor calls government intervention a band-aid solutionDepartment of Municipal and Community Affairs presents first report to hamlet council
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, November 14, 2013
A councillor in Enterprise is not impressed with a GNWT report designed to start the process of getting the hamlet council running more smoothly.
John Leskiw II: Enterprise hamlet councillor is not impressed with initial recommendations from Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. - NNSL file photo
John Leskiw II said some of the recommendations in the report from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) would be like putting a bandage on a bullet hole.
"It will appear to solve the problem immediately, but the long-term effect is useless," said Leskiw at a Nov. 4 meeting of council.
That was the first meeting since a MACA delegation appeared before council on Oct. 7 to outline a plan of sitting in on council meetings to help it function better and overcome disagreements among members.
On Nov. 4, Leskiw said there has been without doubt a considerable amount of conflict and negative interactions between council members.
"I understand what you're trying to do, but given the underlying resentment it would appear that some councillors hold for others, some community members hold for some council members and so forth, good luck," he told the MACA delegation. "Until we get these initial problems resolved, I really don't see much advantage to your program."
Eleanor Young, an assistant deputy minister with MACA, said there is only so much that the department can do.
"Whether they're personal issues or whatever they may be, there are some things that are outside of MACA's purview," she said.
Young challenged each member of council to help resolve the problems. She committed to meeting each councillor individually sometime in January after the December elections for a mayor and three councillors.
The deputy minister outlined what MACA had seen as areas to work on during the Oct. 7 meeting. The ideas were presented in a written report e-mailed to council members.
The recommendations included to stay on the agenda for meetings, to develop a better understanding and appropriate use of legal opinions, and to prepare more concise minutes of meetings.
"We recognize the situation you're in right now has taken a long time to get here and it's not going to resolve itself overnight," Young said. "We want to support you over time to resolve these things. We know that they are not going to be quick fixes in some cases."
MACA suggested the hamlet consider a committee-of-the-whole system to allow full discussion of issues before they go to a regular council meeting.
"It would allow for free-wheeling discussions," said David Kravitz, manager of governance with MACA, adding such a committee – which would consist of council members – could make recommendations to council.
The idea seemed to attract some interest from council.
"This late in some of our terms, would it be feasible to start committee-of-the-whole meetings with this sitting council?" asked Mayor Mike St. Amour.
Kravitz replied the preferred way to start a committee-of-the-whole system would be to amend the council procedure bylaw, and there is nothing to prevent that process from starting now.