NewsNow E-Edition June 6, 2024 – View Online

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Opinion: Common sense vs blind control

By Mike Williscraft

As this edition is printing, the rubber will be hitting the road when it comes to Grimsby and Lincoln amalgamating fire departments.
Lincoln will have its act together. They always do.

Grimsby? Well all bets are off not only on any thought of having its collective act together going into it, but you can bet those council put on the committee will also cloud matters far more than they help.

Chances are slim to none appropriate members of council pass muster when it comes to garnering enough votes to get proper candidates on the joint department management committee.

To look around the Grimsby table, it is evident who would make the best representatives on the joint committee. A good numbers person is needed and someone who can take data and apply it in a creative, if not abstract manner is even better as this is a new trail about to be blazed for these two municipalities. Clearly that points directly with someone with a solid financial background, and that would be Coun. Reg Freake.

Second, you need someone who is an excellent planner and stickler for details. Someone who can digest policy and documents, seemingly mundane but very important. That points to Coun. Dorothy Bothwell.

Now, I have not spoken to either individual about their interest, time or desire to take on such an added role but their background shows they are best suited to the positions.

As I stated in this space months ago, who I think you will get will be Coun. Kevin Ritchie and Coun. Dave Kadwell. Their cohorts in the G5 typically find it very difficult to show any level of support – often in the face of staggering quantities of common sense – for their Minority 4 contemporaries.

Ritchie and Kadwell should not be on the joint committee for very different reasons.

Both have a background in their work life as firefighters. Yes, that could help. Ritchie has gone down the road of being a union leader.

Now anyone who knows anything about unions is their mandate is to grow their numbers in any way possible.

This whole joint venture is being done to avoid exactly that – a full-time (unionized) fire department which would escalate fire service costs astronomically across the board. Just in terms of playing well in a brand new sandbox with others? Please…move on.

As for Kadwell, experience simply would not overcome an inability to digest a great deal of new data, reports and information. Yes, the Town’s CAO will be on the committee to hand-hold and coach council representatives through, but it is not like he has been any kind of positive influence for the community as a whole since his arrival.

Independent thinkers are needed here.

Which leads to another point. Why would CAOs, or staff of any nature, be voting members of a municipal working group in this instance?

The Town’s bylaw, which was dealt with Tuesday night (bumped from Monday due to Labour Day) reads:

B.4.1. The Joint Advisory Committee shall total eleven (11) members and shall be
comprised of:
(a) Eight (8) voting members:
• The Mayor of each municipality;
• Two (2) elected members of the Municipal Council of each municipality;
• The CAO of each municipality; and
(b) Three (3) non-voting members:
• Fire Chief;
• Two (2) Deputy Fire Chiefs

Sure, staff support and input are needed on a committee such as this, but why would the fire department staff be non-voting members and CAOs be voting members?

Again, this is Grimsby baggage, but generally these decisions should be made by elected officials.

* * * * * * *

A quick note about the passing of two very good people whom I knew from different areas of life.

I was shocked to hear of Wendy Baarda’s sudden passing last week. Wendy, who many would know from Lincoln Library, was a “ray of sunshine person”, always super positive who I new since our days at Rannie newspapers in the 90s.

Also, readers will have noticed Jack Martin, an absolute champion of the community, passed away also. Many will know him as the man behind a force in this area for decades, Shirley Martin. Jack was a class act all the way; soft-spoken but always on point. My condolences to both families!

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