Two to replace the one we decided we didn’t want? Mayor and Council member might each have a waterfront advisory group.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 18, 2012  This is going to get interesting.

The Waterfront Advisory Committee is now officially dead.  The funeral will take place at the end of the year – between now and then the committee will meet to clean up the odds and ends.  It will not be a joyous occasion.  The chair Nicholas Leblovic said he was blind-sided by the decision to bring an end to the life of the advisory committee, which is a little like someone putting their hands over their eyes and saying they cannot see.  But the deed is done.

Waterfront Advisory committee in happier days. City council voted to shut the committee down at the end of December. Chair Leblovic, on the left,  is thought to have been an ineffective leader that wasn’t producing the results the city had hoped for.

While no one on city council would really say what the issue was that brought about the demise of the committee,  Scott Stewart, General Manager Community Services put the problem in perspective when he said he voted against the committee with his feet when he stopped attending meetings.  The committee was just not an effective group of people , basically because it was poorly led.  While the chair gets the big end of the responsibility stick the other members of the committee have to share that responsibility – they re-elected Leblovic as chair.

What we didn’t know was that the Mayor was deeply involved in the committee member selection – and he wasn’t Mayor at the time.   It is an experience that is behind us – and we can move on.  The question is – move on to what? The waterfront isn’t going to go away and the problems plus the opportunities related to the waterfront are still there.

Getting the Pump House on the Beachway on the agenda as a possible location for an upscale coffee shop wine bar was one of the successes of the Waterfront Advisory committee. It was a struggle for the committee members to get the idea past their chair.

In her remarks when the issue was voted on – Meed Ward asked for a recorded vote and was the only one opposed to the ending of the advisory committee, said  “City wide organized resident input is needed on a broad range of waterfront issues in Burlington. Our waterfront is one of the city’s features most valued by residents. But we’re losing a key source of resident input by the city council’s decision tonight to end the Waterfront Advisory Committee.”  She went on to say: “The committee had provided a comprehensive list of recommendations on a range of waterfront issues that are now at risk of gathering dust sitting on a shelf. I’m committed to continuing to get residents input to ensure that the city and regional governments take steps to ensure public access to our waterfront.”

She made it clear to her colleagues that while the Advisory group may be dead, she didn’t see the issue or the people who were involved in waterfront issues as something that was just going to go away and she let her colleagues know that she would have the group “working out of her office”.

The evening that Council committee voted to sunset the advisory committee Mayor Goldring said he would “round up” a group of people and make them the ‘Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Waterfront.  So, we may have two committees giving members of Council advice on the waterfront.

What we are seeing here is a claiming of political turf.  Meed Ward has grabbed the waterfront advisory aspect as hers.  She sat on the committee and voted not to shut it down.  Her fellow Councillors disagreed with her.  Meed Ward will bring the committee “in house”  as it were and bringing their views forward whenever she chooses.

A strong Mayor would have a meeting with Meed Ward and explain the role a Mayor plays in the municipal world and that if there is going to be an “advisory committee” it will be created by Council or created by the Mayor.

The vote to disband was taken at the last Council meeting until late in August; they are all off for the summer.  Let’s see where this goes in the fall.  It could get interesting.


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