© Jennifer Hoegg - Kingscountynews.ca
During a six-hour council session April 1, Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle's motion to endorse Coun. Wayne Atwater's nomination to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board passed by six votes to five.
Kings County council's April 1 meeting started with a common occurrence – a half-hour fight over the agenda – and ended after midnight. Approximately half of the six-hour meeting dealt with motions related to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) that revisited decisions made at a previous committee of the whole session.
Several councillors took issue with Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle’s motion to add an agenda item involving re-nominating Coun. Wayne Atwater to board of the FCM. Coun. Pauline Raven moved to strike a related item off the agenda: a policy on FCM conference attendance brought forward by Warden Diana Brothers.
A motion to re-nominate Atwater and a motion to send Brothers to the upcoming annual meeting of the national organization were both defeated two weeks before in tied votes. Atwater is scheduled to attend the May conference in Niagara Falls.
Councillors Raven, Kim MacQuarrie, Emma Van Rooyen, Jim Winsor and Patricia Bishop opposed having the motions on the agenda, but a majority of council - Brothers, Hirtle, Atwater and councillors Mike Ennis, Dale Lloyd and Bob Best - supported them, which kept both topics on the night’s list.
Warden alleges attacks
It took approximately two-and-a-half hours to get to the vote on the contentious agenda items. It was only after lengthy impassioned debate, a complex series of amendments and a motion to refer the amended policy back to committee of the whole that a vote finally came.
Brothers introduced the motion to adopt a policy statement on national conference attendance. If council did not feel attending FCM or Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities’ conferences were worthwhile, she said she would make a motion to leave the organizations.
Raven said she understood that there was more value to being part of the advocacy groups than attending conferences.
“It would take a pretty big ego to feel that if we weren’t there in particular that things would diminish to a point where the UNSM or FCM would no longer have a value to our council,” Raven said.
Brothers alleged councillors’ votes against her attendance were personal.
“The demonstration that took place here a couple of weeks ago was an unfair tactic. It was unfair of this council to make an example to two councillors who have been here 18 to 20 years,” she said.
“It was fairly offensive to me to set there and listen to those comments,” she said.
It was unclear what comments she was referring to, but Lloyd – who was not present at the earlier vote – backed her up.
“I believe this became more of a personal attack on a couple of long-term councillors and anyone who can look me straight in the eye and say ‘no it isn’t,’ I think you’re fooling yourself,” Lloyd said.
“In my mind, the best investment we have in council right now in Kings County is to send the warden anywhere she wants to go.”
Van Rooyen: Allegations ‘ridiculous’
The councillors who had voted against sending a second representative to the May conference took issue with the allegation, citing instead a lack of policy and a tight budget.
“It’s troubling, to say the least, that one of our fellow councillors and our leader thinks that when we’re making decision on this it’s an attack on her,” Bishop said.
“That is absolutely not true.”
Van Rooyen also took issue.
“I don’t have time for this. I don’t think any of us do,” Van Rooyen added. “For all these inferences that there’s backbiting and infighting going on. I just don’t have time for it. I think it’s ridiculous and it makes me very sad.”
She said there was a clear need for a policy, adding her opposition to re-nominating Atwater was not personal.
“It had to do with the fact it’s a very tight budget year, as we’ve discussed, and had to do with the fact we’ve had no formal presentation made or any formal documentation on which to base our decision,” Van Rooyen said.
Hirtle, in an emotional statement, defended Atwater’s appointment.
“If our representative from last year has an obstacle about reporting, why don’t us smart people around this table help instead of finding fault with a man?” Hirtle said.
In the end, both motions passed: there is now has a policy on having at least one elected representative attend the FCM conference and Atwater’s bid to reoffer to the FCM board was endorsed.
County staff could not provide a copy of the final version of the policy, which was amended a number of times, or indicate when it would come into effect. The chief administrative officer said the Advertiser would be sent a copy of the new policy when available.