Smith okay with being lone voice on council
|By Joseph Quigley - Staff Writer | May 9, 2019
Coun. John Smith found himself at odds with some Dysart et al council members after an argument over his line of questioning during a special meeting April 29.
The disagreement came during a discussion about a request for proposals (RFP) for an asset management plan. Smith asked a series of questions about the RFP, the accompanying staff report and the justification for the RFP.
Coun. Larry Clarke said Smith was going off on unrelated tangents. “
You’re on tangents that are not adding any value to this discussion at all. I’m sorry, I just feel like you’re wasting my time,” Clarke said.
Smith said he was trying to understand why the municipality is spending more than $100,000 on the asset management plan. The province has mandated every municipality make these plans to better track degrading municipal assets.
In a recorded vote, councillors voted 6-1 to spend $105,345 plus HST on the plan from Watson and Associates Economists Ltd. The proposal was the second highest price of the five bids received but staff said most of the other proposals did not meet the requirements for the RFP, including on-the-ground inspections. Smith requested the recorded vote and went against the proposal.
After the vote, Smith responded to Clarke’s comment.
“I’m just sitting here troubled and frustrated with the fact that a fellow councillor can say, after a couple of minutes discussion on a topic, that I’m wasting his time and the chair doesn’t object to such a comment,” Smith said. “That’s completely out of line.”
He added Mayor Andrea Roberts encouraged the comment by noting during his questioning that she had a call to get to at the top of the hour.
Roberts said she did not expect controversy over the RFP.
“I was presupposing the conversation … and that we would support staff, who have taken a lot of time to makes this recommendation with good justification,” Roberts said. “We do have to have decorum all around and have respect for every councillor. We’re here for as long as we need to be to make good decisions.”
“I apologize to my fellow councillor,” Clarke said.
Roberts said after the meeting councillors have ample time to ask staff questions between meetings.
“We have to follow our procedural policy, which I’m going to brush up on, which limits the time a councillor can speak to the item,” Roberts said. “There was tension and it’s unfortunate.”
“We work better when there’s a level of respect and we’re all functioning well together. Doesn’t mean we have to agree on things, it’s fine to vote differently on issues, but it’s going to be my job to get a level of respect,” she added.
Smith said as a newcomer, he has brought different perspectives to the table. He further said he does not have a problem being a lone dissenting voice on some votes.
“I believe questions and discussions result in better decisions,” he said. “I stand up for what I believe and I have no problems with that. I express what’s on my mind.”
Smith said he has brought things forward that have received support, such as a proposal at the environment committee level to prevent Hydro One from spraying the herbicide Garlon in the municipality.
His times dissenting have not bled into his relationship with his colleagues, Smith said.