To say that we have been busy would be an understatement. Anyone who thinks that being on council consists of a regular public meeting every two weeks would be in for a big surprise. Under the direction and leadership of our new Mayor Ralph Tapper we have been busy as bees. We have a very enthusiastic group that is eager to hit the ground running. There seems to be a desire to get things done and that is a great feeling to have from the outset.
Here is a run down of my last month to give you an idea of what I have been at.
Sept 24 - Election
Of course leading up to the election was a very busy time for everyone with campaigning and trying to speak to as many residents as possible, it was certainly a relief to have it over with that night and to be elected.
Sept 26 - New Council Sworn in
We didn't waste any time getting that over with, Mayor Codner was going to be out of town so that necessitated the haste to which the new council had to be sworn in. To be perfectly honest it was nice to get it over with and out of the way.
Sept 30 - First Public Council Meeting
Four days after being sworn in we held our first public meeting at which we confirmed the Deputy Mayor and got right to work. I was able to raise the issue of road painting in front of the Elementary School during my go around to express my desire to get this particular piece of work done.
Meetings With Mayor
For the next few days after the initial meeting each councillor got together with the Mayor to discuss our vision and intentions for this term of council and work out our committee structure.
Oct 7 - Council Orientation (Part I)
Council and senior staff participated in part one of our councillor orientation which was a three hours session and covered many items related to being a councillor and to learn about procedures and other topics. This was a very good session for everyone especially those of us who are new to council.
Oct 10 - Torbay Volunteer Fire Department Open House
I attended the open house for the first time as an elected official and was certainly proud to do so. This is something that I like to regularly attend but I made a concerted effort to get there this year to show my support for the fire department who do such great work. I am also the Council Liaison to the fire department and really want to stay involved and informed on matters concerning them.
Oct 14 - Site Visits With Council
On Thanksgiving day the entire council and the town CAO boarded Prestige's new bus and toured around the town to have a look at some sites that could be categorized as "trouble spots". It was great to get together to go around and have a look at these sites and to meet with some residents to discuss their issues. It gives you a first hand perspective on what people are going through. Literally getting down in the ditches to have a look is certainly different than looking at it on paper.
Oct 15 - Public Council Meeting
The time flew for those two weeks and here we found ourselves right back in the Council Chamber for our second public meeting of our new term. The public meeting doesn't start until 7:30 but for members of council the meeting started at 6:00. With so much stuff on the agenda of council this extra time is very beneficial and appreciated. During the meeting we confirmed our committee structure for the next two years which allows us to get to work in our committees. I was able to bring up the road safety improvements in front of the Elementary School again and am glad to report that some action was being taken on it. We were in the process of getting some quotes to find out how much it would cost.
Oct 17 - 2013 Community Awards
I was thrilled to attend the 2013 Community Awards both as a Councillor and as a nominee for Citizen of the Year. The event was a great demonstration of the wealth of amazing people that we have in our town, it was well attended and sure to grow in the future. Any time we can get together to celebrate the people who contribute substantially to the betterment of our community is a good thing. It was a special treat to have Canadian Olympian Ben Russell as the guest speaker and VOCM Back Talk host Paddy Daly as the Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Tapper performed well in his first official public appearance since being elected.
Oct 18 - Municipal Budgeting Seminar
Attended a full day workshop with Mayor Tapper and Councillor Thorne-Gosse on Municipal Budgeting. This session was well attended and very informative, especially for someone who is not familiar with the budget process. There is an awful lot of work that needs to go into a budget for a town our size and I appreciate the opportunity to get this training. It was also nice to be able to meet councillors and mayors from other communities.
Oct 21 - Council Orientation (Part II)
Well you can never get enough training and council got another 3 hours of it this past Monday night which concludes this particular session. I wouldn't call it information overload but over the course of 6 hours of this training we learned an awful lot about how to conduct our selves as councillor both inside and outside the council chamber. The most important thing I learned from this time is that we all need to work together to make the best decisions for the town and then support those decisions afterwards. Even if we disagree initially we can make our case, take our vote but ultimately we need to respect the democratic process and put the best interest of the town ahead of our own. The keys to this happening in my opinion are steady leadership and a spirit of team work. The Mayor is providing the leadership and it is up to us as a council to find common ground and work as a team, I look forward to it.
Oct 22 - Committee Meetings
I am on two committees of Council, Planning Land Use and Development (PLUD) and Public Works (PW) and also as Liaison to the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department. The two committees of council that I am on are possibly the two busiest and it is gratifying that Mayor Tapper has confidence in me to put me on both. The PLUD committee was also the one which was the most contentious over the past number of months, so hopefully we can move beyond that and have a fresh start. One benefit as far as schedules go is that they both meet on the same night, PLUD at 5:30 and PW right after at 7:00. Last night because it was the first meetings the agendas were considerable so we didn't get finished until around 9:00.
So that is a synopsis of what my first month on Council has been like and I can honestly say I am enjoying every minute of it so far. Add to that the numerous visits I have made to residents to talk to them about issues they are having or the emails and phone calls I have been quite busy.
This is only the first month and I fully expect it to be even busier in the coming months as council prepares for our strategic planning to look at where we want to go in the next four years and as well prepare the the budget. There will be more training, more meetings and more decisions to be made on behalf of the residents of Torbay and I look forward to it.
Award Recipients for the Awards Gala 2013
Youth of the Year Dawson Cole
Senior Athlete of the Year Jeremy Mueller
Coach Recognition Award Ron Paul, Dave Benteau, Daryll Whalen
Leader of Tomorrow Lucas Ings-Simms
Individual Community Builder James Cooney
Corporate/Business Builder Shawn Butler (owner/operator S.E.A. Contracting)
Left to Right, Top Row; Emcee; Paddy Daly, Award Recipients; Lucas Ings-Simms, Ron Paul, Dave Benteau Guest Speaker; Ben Russell, Award Recipients; Dawson Cole, Daryll Whelan, MHA Kevin Parsons, Mayor Ralph Tapper
Front Row; Award Recipients; Eugene Tapper, Jeremy Mueller, Lori Hapgood (accepting on behalf of Mr. James Cooney), and Shawn Butler