NB: This is the statement I read aloud at the public meeting for the Judicial Inquiry, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. It is a much-abbreviated version of a statement I have made in my written submission to the inquiry.
Thank you, your honour, for letting me speak tonight. My name is Ian Chadwick. I was a member of the previous council.
This inquiry is about two of the many challenges council faced and overcame last term.
First was the changing nature of Ontario’s energy sector. Prior to the provincial election, all three political parties vowed to reduce the number of Local Distribution Companies across the province. The town expected legislation to force amalgamations after the election.
Council chose to be proactive.
Council listened to our utility board, to our utility and town staff, and to a consultant from the world-renowned firm KPMG. We created a Strategic Planning Team tasked with the responsibility of finding the best option and then guiding us along that path through an open public process.
Our decision to engage in a strategic partnership was lauded around the province as a model of cooperation and collaboration.
Our second big challenge was to resolve a two-decade old deficit in recreational facilities. Simply put, we didn’t have enough space or time to accommodate all the hockey players, skaters and swimmers in our community. Kids and adults had to go out of town every week to play hockey or participate in a swim meet.
And again, council chose to be proactive.
We listened to what the parents and the hockey and swim clubs told us they needed.
Council turned to staff for advice. Staff researched the options, assured us our choices were sustainable, that the process was appropriate and most importantly, that our solution was affordable. Council debated and made a decision in public to fix the problem without burdening the taxpayers.
No, it wasn’t popular with everyone. But councils cannot please every resident.
All of this happened six or more years ago, yet there are still some people in the community who are angry about those decisions.
The current council has had three years to request an inquiry into those decisions, yet it was called for only a few weeks before nominations opened for the upcoming municipal election. Doing so now was clearly politically motivated.
However, I trust in your wisdom not to let this descend into the witch hunt some people would like to see it become. And I also trust you will compare the open processes of last term with the closed-door decisions of this term to see which one served the community best.
I am confident that your inquiry will show the previous council and staff did everything correctly and openly, with the best interests of the people of Collingwood at heart.
I’m equally confident your examination will exonerate everyone involved last term, put to rest the conspiracy theories, and let the town finally move on.
PS. Some of the people speaking at the meeting obviously were not aware of the well-documented processes or the agencies involved in these transactions (particularly the Collus-PowerStream one). In a future post I will provide some basic answers to enlighten them (I trust readers will pass them along, because I can only assume from their questions that these speakers have not read my blog, local media or any of the agendas or other documents on the town’s website for the past six years…).