Nina Bifolchi

News – Silenced at a Council Meeting

Posted March 30, 2016

On March 22, 2016 Council had a full agenda to deal with including a bylaw to authorize execution of a lease agreement between the Town of Wasaga Beach and Wasaga Brewing Company for a commercial lease at 12 Main Street for a Beer Garden.

This meeting can be viewed at Rogers TV: www.rogerstv.com/media?lid=237&rid=72&gid=249397

There has been much discussion about this topic for months which I have been vocal about, so I kept my comments short as follows:

“The details for this venture keep changing. Originally it was to hold 180 people then at our last meeting we were told 80. At one point washrooms were to be included then not. It hasn’t been clear from the beginning.

If a private individual had presented this venture as opposed to the town I don’t believe we would be approving it with the vague information this council has received to date.

I’ve stated my reasons for not supporting this a number of times which hasn’t changed.

I would ask for a recorded vote.”

Following these comments there was further discussion by council members. One council member said that if there were concerns they should have been raised months before, not now. For the record, I have been asking questions for months!

In response to other councillor’s comments, I started to share the discrepancies and inconsistencies in details that occurred as recent as the week before. I will note that I did not share anything that wasn’t already in a public document/agenda or commented on publicly at a committee/council meeting.
This is when I was cut off by the Mayor saying “Deputy Mayor I’m going to stop you there.” The Mayor then (in my opinion) lectured myself and council about good behavior and the need to respect staff.

Let ME be clear! I will not apologize for doing my job and I can assure you staff are in no way afraid to share their ideas or pose a question to me. I do not believe that it is unfair to question a staff member regarding their reports.

I have been a member of the Wasaga Beach Town Council for over nine years. I do not intimidate, insult or belittle any staff and until recently have never been accused of doing so. In fact I would say I’m well respected by most who feel that I am approachable, fair and supportive of staff.
I do however, expect that staff do their job, do it well and provide accurate information, with all the details required for council to make good decisions for this community. If that’s not provided, then you can bet that I will ask questions.

I was asked by a number of people, including one of my sons, why did you back down and let the Mayor cut you off. Even though I don’t agree with what the Mayor did, I respect the office and the fact that he was sitting in the Chairs seat that day. I did however speak with the Mayor immediately following adjournment advising that if that behavior occurred again, I would deal with it at the table in the future as there was no just cause to cut me off for sharing facts and public information.

The fact that as a member of council I am no longer allowed, in some people’s opinion, to question a staff member regarding their staff report or question the information that has been provided, is preposterous. That’s my job! The Mayor stated that it’s quite fine to say you disagree with a staff member but that’s the extent of it, you disagree and you move on. I disagree with that statement. How do you get to the bottom of something if you can’t ask questions?
For the record, I will continue to do my job, ask questions and not be silenced by anyone.

The majority of council has voted that this item be sent back to staff for further review and information gathering prior to moving forward. Council needs to have all of the information in order to make an informed decision.

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO NEWSROOM