Elections are just around the corner, meaning it’s time to critically evaluate the performance of our current council, particularly those hoping to return for the next term.
Looking back over the past four years, overall, it has been downright embarrassing.
It’s honestly no surprise to anyone anymore when comments come out regarding the behaviour of our council. Since they were first elected into position in 2014, it’s been nothing short of a gong show and a circus.
Whether one person was calling another names, throwing a toddler-sized tantrum, refusing to read the information packages, or continuing to dredge up issues that had already been voted on, our elected representatives were nowhere near being a team from the get-go.
Granted, I do not doubt for a moment that every member of our council wants to see a better Orangeville, or that they pursued these positions in the hope of making it one. But what most of them failed to do was differentiate between their ideas of a better Orangeville and what this community wanted.
More than once, councillors put their personal motives above the needs of the town. I could break down every single example from the past four years, but it would likely take up the majority of this issue of the paper.
Is that harsh? Maybe. But we have a right to expect the best in both behaviour and in service to the community from our council. They are there, after all, to represent us instead of themselves.
And yet, maybe representing us is the furthest concern from some of their minds.
Take, for example, a suggestion from a member of council at the last meeting. Their notice of motion put forward was to eliminate the vote for a Deputy Mayor. The recommendation? That the position be awarded to the councillor with the highest number of votes, or, have the position appointed by the mayor.
Besides the obvious reasons this is ludicrous, there is one giant red flag over it. This member of council literally suggested the residents of Orangeville lose their say, their legal right, to select who represents them.
Regardless of which ‘solution’ might be selected, the voice of the residents would be squashed. For many of us, a vote for someone to be a council member does not proclaim confidence in them as a deputy mayor. There are many additional considerations to be taken when voting for someone in that position over someone as a councillor.
And, well, on the issue of the Mayor appointing, that concern is glaringly obvious. Not only do residents not get a say, but it empowers the Mayor to appoint a yes man, creating their own personal echo chamber.
Those members of council who have fought tooth and nail for the people (of whom there are very few) have been visibly stressed for nearly four years. And while there have been some positive accomplishments (like the replacement of our flagpole), there have been far too many blunders.
This includes spending way too much money on city buses that are never full, when it could have been spent on infrastructure projects that are years behind. Or spending money on reports to assess the state of services – like our fire department – and then completely ignoring every recommendation. Or – most recently – tasking our heritage committee to come up with names for our back lanes, then tossing all recommendations out the window in order to name one of them, wait for it… Back Lane.
The sheer amount of time that has been wasted arguing over minuscule things, unnecessary investigations, and pettiness has been mind-blowing. In any other job, were we caught wasting that much of a company’s money, we’d be out the door faster than one could yell, “I’m offended!”
This fall, we have the opportunity to create change, to give our town the opportunity to move forward, to elect a council that is willing to recognize it’s their job to figure out an efficient budget without breaking our bank accounts every year, instead of spending money like we all own money trees.
It’s time to start fresh. Don’t elect the same status quo. Believe our voices are worth more, and that we have the ability to elect a council that actually cares. Don’t vote for someone because they have the best jabs at the other candidates.
Vote for someone who has a track record in the community of caring and getting things done.