“The first mistake for us, for me,
was to have made that kind of a
significant expenditure and fundamental
change to a facility that is extremely
important to the citizens of St. John’s
without any level of public input,
and I acknowledge that as a mistake,”
Mayoral candidate Sheilagh O'Leary has found a bandwagon from which to preach heading into the 2013 municipal election year.
The first term city councilor’s motion requesting that council rescind it’s financial commitment to a new permanent security fence along a section of harbor front drive.
O’Leary was armed with a 2,600 name petition and a gallery of supporters. Her motion was defeated 7-2.
Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff, the elder statesman of the council, seconded the motion. She also injected some common sense into the debate, requesting public consultations.
The rest of council would have no part of public engagement. Despite the confusion signals from Transport Canada and the Port Authority, it was full steam ahead with expending $420,000 of the city’s scarce tax dollars on the controversial fence.
The defeated motion was met with chants and sneers from the protesters who were ejected from the council chambers.
The bigger issue for me is the expenditure of public monies without public consultation. If there is significant opposition to the proposed fence, one might think the council would be willing to seek a compromise.
They could hold a public consultation and use the public’s input as a negotiating tool for compromise on the both the size of the area affected and public access.
Instead, the majority of council has shown an arrogance that will come back to bite them come election time.
Considering the carefully choreographed public consultation that market the development of a city development plan earlier this year, this approach stinks.
My prediction, a much more competitive election and a larger selection of candidates come September 29th, 2013.