In the last pre-election Committee Of The Whole (COW), 20. Oct, 3 Councillors are absent.
In the first post-election COW, 17. Nov, Mayor Dooley is on his way to a Fleetwood Mac concert in Vancouver.
The latter - also last - COW of this term is just so much (more!) political Smallishtown theater. Supporting actors looking for their marks close to Mayor-Elect Kozak just in case wink-wink. Positioning for future advantage: they are line-perfect and aglow with how particularly wonderful the last 3 years have been on/by City Hall's 2nd Floor.
But no moment of reflection. No stock-taking. No we could - really should! - have done better!
My reality-check presentation starts-off this COW:
A Brief Post-Election Review of Pre-Election Council
Over the past 3 years I have made 31 COW presentations - usually taking-on aspects of Council's work Councillors either weren't willing to touch at all or had touched only superficially. I routinely provided print-copies of the material and links to my blog-posts. My It's-Your-Job! position towards them eliciting little direct response. Except for making me very unpopular for simply refusing to fit into a City Hall culture unacceptable to my principles.
Bottom-line: Input not welcome here!
But then - being present at most Regular & COW Meetings over that time-period - I don't remember a Councillor ever personally taking-on an issue - focused, clear, comprehensive - demanding the 2nd Floor's attention. Not once!
General unresponsiveness of Councillors to inconvenient issues, each other and the mayor directly facilitated expansion of his and the CAO's range.
Incoming Council will have to apportion substantial time and energy to fixing unattended, unresolved or botched issues before initiating new ones. Such as not-at-all-new affordable housing, secondary suites, water-rates, taxation, poverty - all inter-connectable.
A few more general pieces of Council's legacy:
While the Community Master Plan curiously ignores the heart of the matter - Baker Street - it just as curiously prioritizes Stores to Shores - which finally is beginning to raise eyebrows. The reality of this stroll-to-nowhere raising mine in the COW, 22 Jun, 2013.The not-so-masterly plan having many other holes: embraced by Council in total.
Council's addiction to outside consultants telling us - always at a hefty price - what's best for Nelson, while actually knowing little about us. And their reports usually fading away.
Council glowingly approving the Nelson Commons mediocrity - clearly not a tourist-magnet - to become and remain for a long time the very unexceptional center of the Nelson universe. If it is actually built ...
... because Council has habitually handed-out variances, permits to condo-developers - while ignoring what market? and developers' financial integrity. Despite the fact of over 350 advertised-by-Baker-agents-alone available properties in Nelson and vicinity.
Council passing a very restrictive parking-bylaw change which - if enacted - will have great negative impact on downtown. And this only in order to benefit Nelson Commons financially.
And finally - Councillors having spent much time and energy in meetings on bits-and-pieces championed by numerous groups, committees, commissions. Often with similar agendas. Except for funding and - control!
While - clearly - solutions to many issues plaguing Nelson could be found in inter-connecting groups - joining them like so many weak threads twisted together into a strong rope.
Before the previous election, a then-already-very-old-timer on Council expressed a need for fresh blood, new energy and ideas. As there was only going to be one vacancy: fresh blood, new energy and ideas could only have been infused in sufficient quantities by several old-timers leaving voluntarily. I said at the time: it's unfair to Nelson and new Councillors to just hang-in-there for another 3 years. If you're tired - for the good of the Whole - just leave!
Indeed - this Council sleepwalked through much of its term. Generally agreeingwith each other just to get on with it - instead of building consensus based on personal conviction: to arrive at well-balanced decisions.
Undoubtedly - it worked hard, but nobody will remember basic bread-and-butter results. Its legacy will be vital issues producing changes for the better, changes for the worse - and no changes at all.
This is not about blame - but acknowledgement of what is. After all - how can you build on denial?
(End of presentation as such)
I then address Mayor-Elect Kozak directly - asking her to create an atmosphere in which all Councillors and the public feel free to express themselves clearly/fully - and are heard.
We shake hands, and I leave - missing-out on 2(!) consultants' reports and - of course - the popcorn!
Kozak - while campaigning - is cognizant of current Council not having been fully engaged, wants to facilitate across-the-board communication and further gathering/developing ideas from all. Good! Her first steps towards that: listening to concerns voiced to new Councillors during their campaigns. Good again! And - while totally reasonable - novel on the 2nd Floor!
A large part of her campaign - and its success - was contrasting her leadership-style to Dooley's. It is to be hoped this includes clearly locking-in the decision-making process leading to the implementation-process: Council decides - the Chief Administrative Officer (emphasis on Administrative) implements what has been decided. A growing fuzziness, tut-tutted over by many in the community.
Tightening, streamlining processes - until recently some the pleasure of only a few - will provide more certainty thus efficiency to all on the 2nd Floor. And ultimately Nelson.
... of this term and final post about it.
I look forward to Mayor Kozak and her Council going easy on the glow while leading Nelson from then and when to then and now!