He loved Big Brother.

Ron Bolin: Sept. 2, 2015

The title above is the final line of George Orwell’s 1984. It carries with it a resonance of this afternoon’s Council meeting at which a multimillion dollar cost plus construction contract for an as yet only sketchily defined and designed auxiliary spillway project was awarded by a majority of our Council present. It is notable that of those voting in favour of approval, only Councillor Bestwick, an opponent of ill-defined City spending even under the duress put upon the City by the Comptroller of Water, bothered to make a case for his decision and it was eloquently expressed in terms of his reluctantly adopted blind faith in project management in the absence of a demonstration of the properties of minimizing cost and damage to the ambience of the park which was called for when the project was first unanimously approved. Councillors Brennan, Pratt, Thorpe and Mayor McKay voted for the project with no discussion or defence of their position whatsoever. One can only infer their infinite love for Big Brother…

As taxpayers we can only hope that Councillor Bestwick’s blind faith will be sustained. Under the circumstances he had no real option. In this situation, the Comptroller, in his role as Big Brother, holds all the cards. We can only hope that this time we will catch on that this situation, like other City multimillion dollar over cost projects was brought about by poor planning.   There is no reason why we should have been forced into a last minute decision. This situation arose several years ago. It is not new. But only after determined citizen action was a proper engineering report on the structure of the Dams obtained. And we still only have external guestimates of the flow generated in the watershed and thus the spillway size and flow needed. These studies should have been undertaken immediately on the report of the purported deficiency in which case the needed remediation would be completed by now and the chasm in trust between the citizens and the City Administration would be, if not entirely eliminated, at least on a path to rational discussion.

Following the vote to approve the spillway contract to Copcan Contracting Ltd. (and unrelated to that decision), Councillor Kipp gave notice, not for the first time, that he could not continue as a member of the Colliery Dams Select Committee and requested that another member of Council be appointed in his place. After some discussion it was moved that the Select Committee be decommissioned effective immediately and the motion passed without significant debate.

There was also discussion of the abrupt end to Monday’s Council meeting following Mayor McKay’s adjournment of the meeting after about 10 minutes of haranguing about decorum. It will be noted that it was the harangue and discussion of it that led to Mayor McKay’s adjournment of the meeting and not any discussion of the award of the contract, the actual subject on the agenda, which led to his adjournment of the meeting and therefore that assertions regarding Councillor’s leaving the meeting due to content rather than form were false, though so reported in some local news channels.

Having now dealt with or dismissed two of Mayor McKay’s platform points, i.e. Leadercast (we need a Public Inquiry!) and the Colliery Dams (The Dams are just fine!), we will, I trust be moving on his Core Review which seems to be languishing. I believe the last time I heard it mentioned; it might be helpful in the preparation of the 2017 budget. We can only hope that it is not given the same short shrift as the previous two items.