Nobody likes to agree when their municipal council is jockeying to spend a whole lot of money on new digs. Sewer upgrades? Okay. Water? Alright. Sidewalks, parks, rec. centres, vehicles? Maybe…
But a fancy new palace for your big desks and comfy chairs? Hmm. We better think carefully about that. I mean, isn’t there a closet that can be converted for civic use? What about the basement? You can zone just about anything as office space, can’t you?
Well, no. And if anyone needed convincing that the Town of Ladysmith has outgrown its hall at the Esplanade and Roberts Street, Monday’s council meeting would surely have been a clincher.
The house was packed, mainly due to a contentious development permit application and the annual grants-in-aid debate. Rather than break the fire regulations about how many citizen-sardines could be packed into the joint, council knocked three items off the agenda and invited the people who had come to see the debate, to please go home.
Not a very good advertisement for public participation in the civic decision-making process.
If this was an isolated example, it would be bad enough. But the cramped, stuffy conditions in council chambers at many meetings are not condusive to quality debate – the brain needs oxygen to function properly, after all.
The situation will be helped when video streaming and archiving of council meetings begins – council has already approved that service. Then, those whose idea of a good time is not a middle seat on a packed, skinny airplane, will at least be able to avoid the congestion, while watching others endure it from the comfort of home.
But the real solution is a new municipal hall. Council has bought property on Buller Street and First Avenue that is intended for that purpose. Acquiring the land is only the first step, though; mustering the capital and developing a plan will take time. We just want to say that council and Ladysmith citizens deserve something better than the hall they’ve got.