CKTB's town hall meeting on governance a smashing success
When it comes to the future of governance in the Niagara Region, it boils down to a glass half full or glass half empty way of thinking.
Around 100 people showed up to Amici's Banquet Hall in Thorold for CKTB's latest town hall meeting, this time on the hot button issue of governance.
Panelists Andrew Sancton, a political science professor from Western University, Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn, and Board Chair of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce Wade Stayzer traded their opinions and views on the current and future political state of Niagara.
Professor Andrew Sancton says the way people are governed or the structure by which they are governed matters because it allocates power in the community to act collectively.
Sancton says on the other hand, he does not believe structures are that important by themselves in determining what makes a system efficient or even effective.
Wade Stayzer, Board Chair of the GNCC says at the moment business owners in Niagara do not feel they have a governance environment they can access, understand or participate in.
Stayzer says the business community is the backbone to prosperity, and in order to move forward, it's time to put the client/consumer at the centre of any discussion involving governance reform.
Dave Augustyn, mayor of Pelham, who is not a big reformer, says he is in favour of the way they do things at his town council meetings.
According to Augustyn, they use a creative problem solving process in their decision making which has been successful.
He says the problem may not be with the structure but perhaps the way Niagara governs itself that is the problem.
Augustyn believes the creative problem solving process could work at the region.
One of the issues the panel touched on was the double direct councillor model.
The GNCC likes the notion because Stayzer says it helps to build greater ties and integration between what happens at the municipal and regional level.
Augustyn is on board with double direct councillors but he worries it may lead to more parochialism.
Professor Sancton also believes double direct councillors is a notion to take further, but does not support the idea of electing a regional chair saying it would lead to more conflict between the two levels of government.
Stayzer says the GNCC likes the idea of an elected regional chair.
He says it could be the catalyst for change, bringing someone in who is not tied to a municipality or another structure.
Augustyn is worried regional council will turn more into party politics if a regional chair is elected.
Earlier this year, a report was brought to Regional Council by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce recommending the chair be directly elected, and a double direct councillor model be adopted.
The issue was sent down to St. Catharines council to study, with the St. Catharines Governance Committee holding public meetings over the summer.
A motion is expected to come before council in the coming months.
Regional Chair Gary Burroughs, a handful of regional councillors, and several mayors were in attendance at the latest town hall meeting.