Got a beef with City Hall? Got a question or a comment you’ve been aching to pose to the mayor and Council? If you can say, “Yes!” then the only place for you to be on Wednesday evening is the Town Hall Meeting at the Community Centre from 7 until 9 pm.
This could well be the place to see some spectacular fireworks as there are some hot issues smouldering away in our pretty little mountain town. You can count on hearing about the million-dollar snow removal budget, the Westside gravel pit, the semi-defunct recycling plan, the Transportation Master Plan and more.
The hottest topic may well prove to be the deteriorating relationship between City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. Talk to a local businessperson and you’ll hear a litany of woes from sky-high taxes to spools of bureaucratic red tape and the headaches associated with getting a sign approved.
And it’s moving beyond the complaint stage. Municipal elections will be held next year and I predict there will be at least one — and possibly more than one — candidate for Council who will be a business candidate.
It may not be openly acknowledged as a rift, but the subtext will be clear to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.
And then there will be questions about infrastructure. Ah, yes. Infrastructure. After decades of ignoring the need to dig up the streets and replace all those rusting iron pipes or crumbling road surfaces, the last few Councils have been busy trying to stay ahead of the curve. Budgets remain tight and taxes high as the City attempts to cope with the need to replace all kinds of stuff. To be fair, it does seek public participation and input primarily, now, through the network of neighbourhood committees the Planning Department set up last year. But there are sure to be questions mundane things like the lack of sidewalks near Arrow Heights Elementary School and the deterioration of sidewalks on Fifth and Sixth Streets East as well as along other roadways.
If any of these things make you crazy then this may well be your best opportunity to ask Mayor Raven and Councillors Chris Johnston, Phil Welock, Antoinette Halberstadt, Steve Bender, Peter Frew and Tony Scarcella for answers.
The point of all this, of course, is accountability. We elected these people to make intelligent and informed decisions and to manage our tax money wisely. You may, or may not, think they’ve done a good job. Now you have a chance to quiz them directly.
The City is trying to get a sense of what’s coming down the pipe at the meeting and is asking everyone who plans to ask a question to register their names and their area of interest in advance. You can do that by contacting Dawn Levesque, Corporate Administrative Assistant, at City Hall by calling 250-837-2911 or by e-mail to email@example.com.