Councillor Kearns and the City Manager go at it – she lost  


By Pepper Parr

June 6th, 2023



Things sometimes get a little stiff between people when a meeting has run long and the Staff comments are concerning.

Council was in a Standing Committee mode – the conversion of Bateman high school into a community hub discussions was not going very well.

Kwab Ako-Adjei, Director, Corporate Communications & Engagement  

No one seemed to have a grip on what was happening,

Kwab Ako-Adjei, Director, Corporate Communications & Engagement   was floundering at the podium; Emilie Cote  the Director of Recreation, Community and Culture was being grilled by Councillor Stolte over just when the public was going to be able to have some say at what was happening.

Councillor Lisa Kearns: Would you put that in writing please

Councillor Lisa Kearns had a question for staff and wondered if maybe the city manager would like to answer ?

“I’m just wondering”, she asked “how staff view the role of the Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement and Partnerships in light of this project.  How do you how do you foresee that Deputy Mayor engaging on this particular file?

The file she was speaking of was the conversion of the Bateman High School into a community hub – a project that wasn’t going all that smoothly – which would be putting it mildly.

Kearns continued: From my perspective, I do think this is our biggest project so shouldn’t there be a direct relationship ?

City Manager Tim Commisso responded: “I think it comes in different ways. I think there was a direction previously to report back so we honour those directions and come back but I think to the extent that you know there is that consultation and that sets out a different stage because we’re in the early stage.

“And I think that as we move forward particularly in terms of this particular interest. My personal view is I could see an opportunity to gauge that particular deputy mayor, which happens to be yourself,  in the more detailed discussion. I think we’re in the early stage process here so it hasn’t happened. I’ll just offer it up. I do think there’s an opportunity.

Kearns comes back with: “That’s terrific. Just a follow up question. Would I be able to see something in writing, maybe by the next council meeting on what that scope might look like? Here’s the reason why.

“In looking at the get involved Burlington page, the level of engagement from the IAP to engagement spectrum actually stops at consult and I’m just wondering if we’ve left many of our tools off the table when it comes to that $100,000 potential engagement fund and or additional engagement by that Deputy Mayor.

City Manager Tim Commisso

Commisso: “I always take the view when something is a council concern, that that’s where it should be. If there’s any concern will make a commitment to work with Kwab Ako-Adjei, and Jacqueline Johnson Executive Director of Community Relations & Engagement to get something back if that’s the will of committee.”

For a member of Council to ask the City Manager to “put it in writing” – is not something I’ve seen before.



Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 comments to Councillor Kearns and the City Manager go at it – she lost  

  • Joe Gaetan

    Because it has not happened before does not make it wrong. If I was the DM of Engagement I would be sweating bullets with what has not happened so far on this $100,000,000 hot potato. The City Mangaer, Directors and staff don’t have to answer to us.

    • Lynn Crosby

      I recall some of us noting how the deputy mayor titles were meted out by the mayor: certain ones like this one getting impossible tasks if the mayor and council members and staff don’t support real engagement, while certain other ones like environment can be seen to be successful with mayor’s support on a rather easy file …. hey, here’s something that’s actually transparent! We envisioned this exact scenario playing out, literally saw right through it.

    • Jim Thomson

      The Mayor may live to regret making Kearns the DM of Engagement.
      Where there is danger there is also opportunity.
      I don’t think Kearns lost. The City Manager agreed that they need to involve the DM of Engagement on the biggest project the city has going.

      I think what you saw was the first round of many to come.

  • Blair Smith

    I’m not sure that I would agree with your assessment that Kearns lost suggesting that Commisso won. When the political side of the house asks staff for something in writing it speaks rather loudly to loss of faith and trust. I think that Commisso, Kwab Ako-Adjei and staff writ large are losing in establishing the most critical relationship – that involving their credibility to the Councillors that they serve.