By Mike Williscraft
Grimsby council is the Toronto Maple Leafs of municipal politics.
When this group was put together by its general manager – the voting public – it was built for speed and success. There was no way this group could perform as poorly as previous incarnations and should be able to eradicate ghosts of councils past.
Monday of this week, the Leafs proved they could not get by their past.
Last Tuesday, May 25, Grimsby council proved the same, shooting itself in the foot yet again.
This time, they went full Mitch Marner. They had an open, yawning cage. All they had to do was shoot the puck in it. Nope, a shot into the only area of traffic clanked off team captain Auston Matthews’ skate.
So close, and yet so far: the tale of Grimsby council.
When I saw that Grimsby council, this particular bunch, was going to take on the task of redrawing ward boundary lines for the 2022 municipal election, I was waiting for some kind of punch line. Any of the serious items this group has dealt with have met with petty differences, bickering, zero listening and no appropriate debate. These factors, many times, led someone on council to launch another Integrity Commissioner complaint.
On this issue, during the May 17 meeting Committee of the Whole discussion on the ward boundary review things seemed a bit different.
Each council member voiced an opinion, each a bit different, but they also seemed somewhat interested in hearing what others had to say. In my humble opinion, this was because nobody was able to strategize outside of council and come to the table with a predetermined course planned for a majority to follow. There were too many variables on this one with 13 options in the report and even on commonly preferred options there were different aspects some like and didn’t like.
The result was honest, thoughtful debate WITH a consensus that since only about two dozen had participated in the public Zoom meeting that led up to the report launch the general public should have another opportunity to provide input into council’s chosen direction or narrowed list of options.
It was one of the very few important issues this group has agreed on in two-and-a-half years.
So council voted to plan a special meeting, which was set for May 25, at which the list of 13 initial options was to be narrowed to 5-6. The public would be able to give input at a subsequent public meeting and then council would choose a final direction in early June. It was a well-planned process which would provide the public with a debated, well-communicated decision well ahead of what is considered a soft deadline of late June – far ahead of the hard deadline to make the change live for the next election. Sufficient time needed to be built in to allow for an LPAT appeal should anyone decide to go that route.
So, good reader, there was the yawning cage awaiting Grimsby council to simply shoot the puck into the back of the net for an easy win.
Instead, you have have the group convene for the May 25 meeting and push through an option they choose in that meeting – no public debate, no public input.
This was an unbelievable move at a time when many in the general populace not only feel completely disenfranchised but are downright cheesed off that many of those they voted for – and in some cases actively campaigned for – have done a hard left turn and actually done major damage to the Town of Grimsby and its reputation.
It really does not matter what that decision was or is. It could have been a slam dunk. Council could be 100 per cent correct in its decision.
The fact remains they choked. They wrapped both hands around their collective necks and went full Toronto Maple Leafs.
They had the open net. They just had to do the same thing but follow through on what they already agreed to do. Having the public input session may not have impacted the result one iota. That was not the point. For people who campaigned on accountability and transparency it was a freebee, a slam dunk.
After October 2022, many will have more time for golf, just like the Leafs.