After attending the amalgamation information meeting in the fall of 2013 it was obvious that the amalgamation plans were in place and that there was little anyone could do to change the direction dictated by the councils. I was unhappy with the way the councils of Shellmouth-Boulton and Silver Creek had gone about formulating the amalgamation plan between the two municipalities. The lack of public consultation was a serious concern. The misinformation regarding the impact of Russell’s debt was also a problem.
On the surface it seemed as though the interpretation of what impact this debt would have on the taxes of amalgamation partners could have been an honest mistake. But why, when the question was raised and when information was available that contradicted this fallacy, did the CAO and the majority of the council fail to look into the matter? One would have thought that the CAO would have seen fit to research this issue and provide council with the correct information. But this was not done. Instead an incorrect interpretation was repeatedly advanced as justification for not considering a larger amalgamation.
After the meeting in Inglis where it was finally conceded that Russell’s debt was not an issue for amalgamation partners, my wife and I discussed how this issue was dealt with at the Angusville meeting. I had raised the question and the reeve of Shellmouth-Boulton rose and emphatically stated “Rod, you are wrong. You are wrong.” Nothing was said at the Angusville meeting after this unequivocal statement to give anyone reason to believe anything other than the fact that the reeve was right and I was wrong. That bothered me immensely.
I don’t mind admitting that I am wrong when I have made a mistake. I have a real problem though when someone publicly accuses me of being wrong when I am not. After pondering the matter at length, I decided that I could not let this go without asking for a correction.
I contacted the municipal office in Inglis and made arrangements to meet with the reeve and the CAO. My wife and I attended the office in the morning of October 24th, 2013. Knowing that the reeve and the CAO would support each other, I wanted to have another set of eyes and ears to hear what was being said.
I recapped what had happened at the Angusville meeting and told the CAO and the reeve that I was concerned with the fact that none of the attendees at that meeting would know of the retraction that was made at the Inglis meeting. I explained to both of them that my integrity is hugely important to me. I pointed out that the misinformation was at their feet and that I felt that it was their responsibility to fix the problem that they had created.
The CAO told us that it sounded as though I was demanding a public apology. I told her that I was not but that I thought that she and the reeve had made a mistake that they needed to fix. I left it with them to decide how they would fix it. I also told them that if they would not fix it, that I would. My wife and I then left the office.
In hindsight I should have outright demanded a public apology. What was done to fix the mistake was an ineffective and pathetic effort to fix the problem that they had created. The comment “As a follow up to the Angusville Public Information Meeting, Provincial Consultant Bob Brown clarified the Russell Multiplex debt is roll specific not general” appeared in an article in the Russell Banner on November 5th, 2013. That was it! Wow! Talk about taking ownership of a mistake.
I spoke to the reeve about this article and he advised me that he had left it with the CAO and that he was satisfied that the issue was dealt with appropriately.