Smiths Falls

Going rogue in Smiths Falls

Posted Aug 16, 2012 By Stacey Roy

EMC Lifestyle - Last week's town council session got people talking, and not just about the pedestrian study recommendations.

A staff request to amend council direction for the establishment of a sidewalk on Broadview Avenue caused some questions from the public in the audience. The confusion was why town staff sent out a Request for Proposals detailing a design that didn't receive council approval?

The request, that is found in the RFP document and was presented just last week to councillors, asked for the sidewalk to be wider to allow for bicycles and walkers and be made of asphalt rather than the original direction of concrete. Ultimately, councillors maintained their choice for concrete, but the fact that a staff member went rogue didn't escape the public's attention even if it was somewhat missed around the horseshoe.

There's no question that town staff are the professionals in their fields and that their opinions are very important to the decision making process, but the decision ultimately rests with those democratically elected by the people.

Last Tuesday night the whispers heard from the public gallery made all these points and more. Why did council not address this obvious deviation from the process? Their decision to ignore the move while maintaining their stance on the issue was certainly a passive exertion of council's role, but residents sitting in the audience that night seemed to want more.

The issue is small on its own, but does open up a concern from the public that those elected to office aren't being respected for their positions and directing the town's progress as they were elected to do.

I have sat in on virtually every committee and council meeting for years now and know first hand the hard work and consideration both councillors and town staff put into moving the town forward and considering every item put before them, but it's hard for the everyday resident to see this on the street. Last week would have been a great opportunity to have sent this message clearly.

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