Opinion: Glimmer of hope for logic

By Mike Williscraft

Grimsby council giveth, and Grimsby council taketh away.

At Monday’s meeting council finally got it right, or least got on the track to getting it right, where its code of conduct and associated whistleblower policy is concerned.

It really is confounding why having a third party, independent reporting structure for complaints seems to have become some sort of focal point for angst among an intensely dysfunctional council, but it has.

Such third party reporting of non-compliance is commonplace in this day and age and municipalities and corporations which don’t have it are, typically, in the process of review to getting something in place. Not to wish litigation on anyone, but to not have such a policy can play a role in liability when things do go bad.

So it begs the question, “what gives?” to those who vehemently oppose this notion.

I welcome any opinion on this from anyone of councillors Kevin Ritchie, Dave Kadwell, Dave Sharpe, Randy Vaine or John Dunstall, who voted against this idea on Jan. 21.

Monday night, Coun. Dorothy Bothwell made another well-reasoned attempt to get staff to review a possible third party reporting process and generate a report for council so they could see how such an animal would look.

It’s a start and, as noted, a highly logical one.

Council absolutely needs to get this done to restore some level of common sense and as a show of faith in support of its staff. That is all I am going to say about that point – at this time.

On the point of illogical, I offer you the Grimsby Economic Development Advisory Committee.

During his report to council on Monday night, Coun. Kadwell – who chairs GEDAC – must have nearly cried as he told all that his committee had pulled the plug on support of the tourism kiosk at the Grimsby Gateway.

Kadwell has been a true champion of the kiosk and keeping alive the idea that having Grimsby marketing directly to a captive audience could pay dividends for local businesses.

He told council the committee – which had been deemed by council as the overseer of tourism initiatives under its mandate – has now decided tourism promotion is not a priority to economic development.

Now, if you are going to deal with economic development in silos, one could begin to make that argument.

However, anyone who has put various projects out into the field knows many facets of ec dev are tied.

One member cited Grimsby’s lack of facilities such as wineries and craft breweries. Now I know of one group who has knocked on every available door for 18 months to find a suitable location in Grimsby’s core. They have their entire business plan and investment capital ready to go.

So is helping a potential tourism-centric entity such as this get established not in the tourism vein? Depends who you ask, I guess.

Also, development infers one has a starting point on which to build and one develops from there. If you ignore the businesses which are either 100 per cent in a tourism-oriented category or enjoy spin-off effects from tourists, that will only detract from this sector, erode the base of businesses which are already struggling to make a buck thereby eroding the base out from under any development.

To ignore the opportunities of the tourism kiosk is just bad business.

Yes, improved marketing tools need to be developed to capitalize on the traffic, but the whole thing has been on life support since Niagara Region got all fumbly on the file years ago. Region has never really recovered from its years-ago decision to fold Niagara Economic and Tourism Corporation (NETCorp).

At a time when just about every aspect of council’s conduct has divided everything from personalities to workflow on multiple levels, one might think they would step in and confirm to GEDAC what priorities are to be in their purview.

If GEDAC simply does not want to deal with tourism and council agrees tourism marketing and branding should go to another part of the administration, no problem. Just don’t let it die.

As was noted Monday, for GEDAC to opt on spending $12,000 on wayfinding signs is great, but visitors need to have something to find at the other end of those directions.

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