Council not really overseeing city business

Re: Housing plan continues to stir emotions, April 23.

To the Editor,

Re: Housing plan continues to stir emotions, April 23.

There is this mistaken notion out there that city councillors have the time and/or the ability to somehow oversee all the business of the city conducted by staff.

In fact there is nothing further from the truth.

Councillors are paid less than $30,000 per year. Being a city councillor does not require anyone to quit their ‘real’ job. Some councillors may have the luxury of being retired or financially well off enough that they can devote a full-time effort, but that is not what is expected under the current setup.

There is no prerequisite requiring a councillor to demonstrate their ability to read, digest and analyze the avalanche of reports a highly paid civil service can drop on their desks at a moment’s notice.

City councillors rely on the information they receive from city staff and basically take the direction of staff when it comes to final decisions presuming that staff have done a thorough and unbiased study.

What happens, however, when the work of staff is inadequate or simply wrong?

The current ‘no barrier’ housing project is a case in point. Basically it would seem that city staff, if nothing else, did a lousy job of engaging area neighbours affected by this contentious project.

In fact, person after person after person has accused city staff of being outright deceptive during the early stages of this project. There has been enough such accusations that it should call for serious investigation into the planning stages of this project.

During the most recent public hearing, when another angry resident voiced displeasure, Coun. Jim Kipp told the resident to direct their anger at council, saying, “we take the heat, not staff.”

That is an interesting comment and quite enlightening.

Does that mean that Coun. Kipp supports the notion he should be responsible for the conduct of a city staff member? Is he the least bit curious if there has been deception? If so, does he condone that action?

Jim Taylor

Nanaimo