Getting the urge

Anyone interested in running for council needs to circle April 21 on their calendar.

That evening, former warden Lynda White and current Warden Kelly Linton will join John Mascarin, a partner with the law firm Aird and Berlis LLP, as guest speakers. This event is an information session designed to encourage people contemplating a run this fall to do so with a full picture of responsibilities and expectations.

Although a provincial election in June intersects the municipal nomination period running from May 2 to Aug. 19, word on the street is people are gearing up already, testing the waters with friends and family. 

It goes without saying there is a measure of grumpiness across the province, between two-plus years of pandemic constraints and a sense of helplessness with inflation and rising costs. How those concerns translate at the ballot box this June or in the fall is anyone’s guess.

With the standard four-year term, candidates will need to commit to a 48-month time frame. Depending on the office sought, that will easily translate into two or three meetings per month. The more active councillors could well see four to six commitments per month where they will need to have read their package and be prepared to involve themselves in the conversation. 

The entirely immersed councillor will find it even busier by meeting with residents, actually performing site visits and being knowledgeable on what’s happening in their municipality. In essence, the job is what someone wants to make of it, but it would be foolhardy to think accomplishments come without significant effort.

Without assuming too much about the April 21 presentation, we noted some discussions will centre around governance and administration; where elected persons and members of the public fit in that equation.

The culture of local councils has certainly changed in the last 25 years, brought to a head by local amalgamations and cemented since by provincial directives. Identifying these parameters will help candidates see where their skillset is best applied.

Codes of conduct that elected officials must now formally navigate, were once handled capably with a quiet conversation off-stage between the parties involved. That is one significant difference in culture that we begrudge, which in recent years and with different councils has cost thousands in wasted money and unnecessary ill-will.

In terms of finances, that is very much a staff job now. Budgets are passed and as long as those fiscal measures are met, councillors don’t have a chance to query accounts as they once did. The practice became passe when townships grew larger, but it was a good exercise in understanding township spending. Candidates intent on counting pennies and directly making deals will be disappointed.

In the end, some who attend April 23, may decide their temperament or world view does not sync with current practices. 

For those interested in next steps, there will be countless resources available to ensure a successful application for nomination and a list of rules to govern campaign filings.

While public office isn’t something for everyone, those so inclined and who get elected will find it a very rewarding experience. 

Last period

This weekend there will be a chance to sleep in until 7am. Like many Canadian parents, winter weekends for us consist of hockey practices and games, usually with an extra early alarm to get to the rink on time. 

While an ode to parents is in order, this week an unequivocal thank you is due to the men and women who coach hockey and the municipal staff who get the rink opened and ready for families.

For weeks now we have observed countless adults, some with kids in the Stanley Stick program and others who just love hockey, coach kids at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph. 

For parents who haven’t donned skates in 40 years, those who volunteer their time are very much appreciated. 

Their patience with the kids and obvious excitement watching skills improve each week is a great testament to their character and love for the sport.

Thanks so much.