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Letters to the EditorCouncillor Duncan Abbott responds to recent letter

Councillor Duncan Abbott responds to recent letter

duncanDear Mr. Eades:

I have read Ms. Hirst’s latest letter and I feel that I must comment. This and other recent letters place a large onus on the members of Council. I will deal with the comment topics under her headings.

Communications

Firstly, there is a large volume of information that goes out at meetings, in the press, and on the website that no one seems to read. The proposal for closing three parks in Almonte was included in the recent review of recreation plans for the Municipality. There were very few people who came out to the meetings and no comments about park closings.

No one contacted us when the report was accepted and we didn’t hear from anyone when we closed a rural park except a few neighbours of that park who were divided on the proposal. That meeting like the recent one was for public input. We heard the various opinions and only then was a decision made. The recent meeting was to give the public the same opportunity and we heard them. This includes Ms. Hirst who started the evening off with one of the strongest, most eloquent and persuasive comments. Contrary to the coffee shop wisdom no decision had been made. The Municipal reasoning was explained at the start of the meeting and countered by many of the speakers. No decision has been made to date.

Secondly, communication is a two way street. You can’t ignore everything that comes out from council and then cry foul when your particular concern comes up for decision on the basis that no one told you. When a matter such as the park closure comes up we do get emails and sometimes they are overwhelming in number. I have been guilty of not answering everyone personally when I see a reply from a fellow member of council that I agree with. When the Park issue came up I received two calls about this. It sometimes feels as though residents don’t want a discussion of the topic but rather a forum for venting.

Priorities

Councillors and staff have held four meetings this summer about priorities and since the first one when four residents came out there has been minimal outside attendance.

Collaborative Planning

We in the past five years have presented a long term plan for the following at public meetings: transportation, recreation, financing, culture, water and sewer and our Community Official Plan. We also have held meetings for most major infrastructure projects and numerous meetings related to the Heritage District. In fact we held several more meetings for the last project than required and yet there are still those who complain that they weren’t consulted.

Other than the recent meeting and some on the Heritage Plans, the meetings are attended by anywhere from no one to a handful. Few comments are filed but they are all considered before action is taken. Budget meetings are attended by as few as three people last year to perhaps thirty.

Maintenance

The infrastructure of our properties is a constant concern. We now have long tern plans not only for maintenance but also for the funding of it on what should soon be a debt free basis. As well we now have a property manager whose job it is to make sure that buildings are kept up and also to oversee the projects as they come up.

Finally Ms. Hirst, I think that if you had sat down with one of your Councillors for a coffee or invited one or more of them to a meeting anyone of us would happily explain the issues and problems facing the Municipality.

Council can only do so much. There is an onus on ratepayers to do more than show up with banners when some one issue worries them. You need to inform yourselves on an ongoing basis and the best way is to speak with the members of Council before there is a crisis.

Let’s meet for coffee.

Duncan Abbott
Councillor
Mississippi Mills

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