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Unease lingers in council over tone of debate

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

By Chris Marchand

Councillor Mel Fisher spoke at length, March 12 on his views that city council is promoting a culture of negativity in its political churnings of late.

In the matter of withheld municipal funding from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, after the city fell behind in submitting their audited financial statements from as far back as 2009, Fisher says he finds the effort to pin the responsibility on city staff ‘embarrassing’.

“This was a management decision and it is a management failure that this first report under the new system is late. Blame has to be shared between both the old and new council and both the old and new city manager.”

In a bit of a shot across the bow of Mayor Craig Nuttall, Fisher says a policy of being overly antagonistic with the provincial government is a strategy that doesn’t work.

“In my forty years or so of municipal involvement, I have learned three golden rules for dealing with the province, one, do not bite the hand that feeds you, and two, do not get into a fight you cannot win,” said Fisher. “The third is so self-evident it should go without saying, that is, there is no place for party politics in small town municipal life, and especially in dealing with the province. The entire provincial bureaucracy is upset with us as we have violated all of these rules time and again, going back as far as opposing the eminently sensible bypass proposal, and as recently as proposing toll gates on the highway.”

Mayor Craig Nuttall says he sees the situation much differently saying that there is simply more communication and community engagement taking place around municipal issues. That some of that discussion is negative, given the circumstances, is to be expected.

“Right now, our financial problems are such that they concern everyone in the city. This is not the status quo. I was really disturbed by what he had to say last night. We’re opening up where we never used to open up and we’re telling the people exactly what’s going on.”

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