To the Editor:
In light of recent response to the Municipality of South Bruce Council’s decision to commit to a referendum when appropriate studies are completed, I felt it was appropriate to discuss what exactly the “role” of our Council is. According to The Ontario Municipal Councillor’s Guide, “The representative role of council is clearly indicated in section 224 of the Act.”
At first glance, the representative role appears to be fairly simple and straightforward. But what does it involve? On one hand, you were elected by your constituents to represent their views when dealing with issues that come before council. Your constituents have many views and opinions, and you cannot represent all of them, all of the time. On the other hand, election to office requires you to have a broader understanding of the issues that impact the municipality as a whole.
You will have to consider conflicting interests and make decisions that will not be popular with everyone. Generally, evidence-based decisions are made by taking into account all available information.”
Our Council’s decision, albeit not completely in opposition groups favour, is a fair decision. They have many members of the community demanding a referendum, and many others who want anything but a referendum. They have constituents that feel they are informed enough (or just don’t care to learn about the project at all) and others who want all the information before being asked to make a decision. The decision to commit to a referendum AFTER studies are completed is an exceptional compromise to fulfil their representative role and consider as many opinions as possible.
It is true that current Council cannot hold a future Council to holding a referendum. That leaves a couple of options.
1) Re-elect current Council, or some of our current Council, and hold them to their decision to hold a referendum and give each resident and ratepayer a vote on the project.
2) Elect a new Council that campaigns on the premise of giving each resident and ratepayer a vote when it comes to this project (and maybe other major projects within the community because it is a precedent we are setting).
I hate to say it, but the response to this decision by opposition groups is alike to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum over the colour of their drinking cup. They got the referendum commitment they’ve been demanding for a long time now, just not on the timeline they have recently began demanding.
It’s about time every single member of our community realizes that this decision is not about one person or one group’s opinion; it is about what is best for the entire Municipality. We need to make this decision together, one way or another, and so long as attacks on our elected officials, their decisions, and those whose opinions are different than ours continue, our community will stay divided long after the decision regarding this particular project is made.