A “special” council meeting has been called for May 19. Now, when this council says ‘special” they almost always mean they scurry behind closed doors to avoid public scrutiny of their machinations. And, yep, they’re at it again: locking themselves away from the public eye, and sending a clear message about the credibility of their promised openness and transparency.
The topic of discussion this time? Cultural Awareness Training.” Since when was that something that should be done in secret? That seems the sort of education that everyone in public could benefit from, not just councillors. So either it’s something else entirely, or there’s a nefarious reason for going behind closed doors for this. It has raised questions on social media, for sure.
It’s been suggested that, since it’s supposed to be for the “purpose of educating or training the members,” it could involve tests and evaluations, and frank comments about recent events. Having the presentation’s PowerPoint slides read slowly aloud might embarrass our none-too-bright, reading-averse councillors. Or perhaps they don’t want their test scores made public, fearing public castigation that they “could do better.”
Perhaps they are going behind closed doors so any potentially less-than-politically-correct sentiments can be voiced aloud instead of in public where some folk might take umbrage and besmirch our council’s precarious reputation further.
Or perhaps it’s something else entirely. Council recently passed a bylaw to implement prohibitively expensive paid parking at Sunset Point to limit access to a supposedly public park. This is assumed by some to be a knee-jerk reaction to complaints about brown and Asian people coming here from outside to enjoy the park. It has been suggested that a bunch of surly old white residents got shirty about people of colour in a public park that some locals consider their own, private domain. Several of them seem to have been staunch supporters of some candidates last election, too.
Our council over-reacted rather predictably by making it expensive and difficult for everyone to park there, town residents included. If you live here, you need to download an app to your phone, create an account, and use it to identify yourself as a resident to get a parking permit. And hope you don’t get hacked. Yes, there are Orwellian connotations to this.
But what if you don’t have a data plan for your phone? Does that mean you can’t activate the app when you’re not close to a wifi source? Are only the elite who can afford a $100-a-month data plan able to avail themselves of the parking permission? If so, not only are non-residents being targetted, less-wealthy residents are, too. But then, this council has never held the less-affluent, seniors, or working poor in anything but disdain, so this is hardly surprising.
All of which suggests that “Cultural Awareness Training” will be as useful to our council as a bicycle is to a fish.
Collingwood deserves better.
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I’ve confirmed that the parking app doesn’t work if you don’t have a data plan. You can’t even log into it without one. So it’s not a resident-friendly system. But then what has this council ever done that’s good for residents?