Normal democratic process on-going at Chelsea, Qc town hall

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by admin on July 7, 2010

By Edmond Hetu

Letter-writer Sheldon Weatherstone asks, “What’s going on at City Hall?” (Low Down, June 23 edition). Though I suspect the question was rhetorical, let me answer, on behalf of one member of council.

What’s going on is, quite simply, the normal democratic process of trying to do the right thing for residents and taxpayers. The business of running the city falls squarely on the shoulders of the civil servants . . . and part of that business deals with the mechanics of long-term planning and anticipating the needs of the town and, in the process, making recommendations to elected officials who, lest we forget, represent those who elected them and those who ultimately pay the bill.

It is wise and prudent for civil servants to look at all kinds of options from a strategic point of view and present them for consideration. Then, it’s up to council to present these ideas to the public, form some kind of vision and, from there, provide direction to city staff on how to proceed. Ideas presented at public information sessions are not the same thing as bylaws presented at council meetings; for one, taxpayers pay nothing (or very little) for ideas other than the time they invest in giving us their feedback.

Infrastructure-related bylaws constitute a commitment of public funds. These are presented only after an idea is fully baked, has the backing of experts and is fully costed out – and the public has been consulted and had the opportunity to veto it.
There is no $15-million proposal for water and sewer. There are half-baked and 3/4- baked ideas in the oven, some of which try to leverage opportunity against cost-effectiveness and some of which have rough cost estimates attached, for evaluation purposes. Statements from the Chelsea Director-general may sound dramatic, but Mr. St-Louis is simply responding to a question as honestly and openly as possible. But since it is all speculative and based on rough estimates to a non-proposal, there is no need for alarm.

When a proposal can be made that sounds reasonable, has acceptance in the community and is economical prudent and responsible, a project will be presented for approval. Water and sewage are vital components to the village core and we need to get it right not just for those who live, work and play there now, but for their children and grand-children.
Mr. Weatherstone is correct in his final analysis, though. Public discussions on any proposed water and waste-water project is vital to the community’s well-being. And I can assure him that this view is shared by all members of council.

Edmond Hetu is the councillor, District 6, for Chelsea, Quebec