About theburgwatch

the first to create a record of amherstburg town council's performance

Kudos And Questions For New Council Unanswered

Two days after the election, on October 26, 2022, I congratulated all members of the new council and offered kudos to councillors Pouget and Courtney; I did not encounter any barriers during their campaigns to represent their community.

Unfortunately, the remaining 5 created and/or perpetuated barriers for the approximate 5000 Amherstburg residents with disabilities so as a result, I asked:

  • of the accessibility information the town provided to you for your campaign, which did you read?
  • what trainings have you participated in for accessibility legislation, for example, as an employee, volunteer, etc.?
  • how will you fulfill the obligation to remove barriers?

Stratford’s 2021 Code of Silence Award

CBC article reports on Stratford’s honour of being Canada’s “most secretive” municipality in 2021. “There’s a real problem with openness, and transparency and respect for the public.”– Jim Turk, director, Centre for Free Expression.

Turk said the report also shone a light on some the systemic problems when it came to council sharing information with the public and journalists.

“When people made requests for information, the city demanded, in our view, an exorbitant price for supplying it. In the case of one request, they wanted $8,850 to provide the information.”

More in this article from the Stratford Beacon Herald Second report finds Stratford council regularly broke closed-meeting rules.

Who Declared A Conflict Of Interest?

The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act requires that every municipality establish and maintain a registry of all declarations made by members at a Council, Committee or Board meeting. Councillors are to declare conflicts in writing, to the Clerk before, or immediately following, a meeting.

Amherstburg no links; a pdf of names and nature of conflict; more details regarding items would increase transparency.

Since 2019, of those re-elected to council:
Michael Prue 7
Peter Courtney 5
Donald McArthur 5

Kingsville links to declaration forms to view; more transparent.

Essex no links; spreadsheet.

Leamington links to reports, items, reasons.

Tecumseh links from names to view declaration forms.

It will be interesting to see who declares conflicts this term and for what reasons.

Election Barriers 2022

From Administration report to council, ‘After the election is complete, the Clerk shall report to Council on election related accessibility issues that were identified and how each issue was addressed during the election period. The Clerk’s report will also be provided to the Municipality’s Accessibility Advisory Committee for information and comment.’

I submitted my list of barriers, including the canddiates’ I encountered and encourage everyone to submit to:

Valerie Critchley
Chief Administrative Officer
Town of Amherstburg
519-736-0012 ext.2238

email: vcritchley@amherstburg.ca

“Co-An Park, An Underutilized Jewel”, Donald McArthur

McArthur continues with his ‘town hall blog’ and posts, ‘Council agreed in September to spend up to $10,000 to work with the Town of Essex to engage the public and identify redevelopment opportunities for the sprawling park.’

Administration recommended ‘An unbudgeted expenditure, not to exceed $10,000 plus applicable HST, BE APPROVED for Phase 1 Public Engagement and Consultation to identify redevelopment opportunities for Co-An Park. September 12 Report to council.

How would a public consultation meeting and an online survey cost $10,000? By the way, there should be a variety of feedback mechanisms.

Isn’t the point of public consultation to listen to what the residents have to say and then make up one’s mind?

McArthur, who campaigned as being a responsive councillor, has already acknowledged, “I know some people think Amherstburg shouldn’t invest in this park because it is technically in Essex but I don’t share that view.

What’s more, operating this park and adding new amenities only costs Amherstburg fifty per cent of the total because Essex pays for the other half. That opens up a host of possibilities, like a splash pad, for example, that might be out of reach if Amherstburg residents had to solely foot the bill.”

And why would amenities be out of reach for Amherstburg residents? Oh, because we spent money on amenities like maybe a $160,000 dog park?

The Burg Watch is 11 Years Old

In 2011, following the 2010 election, I was the first in Amherstburg to create a blog as a reminder to voters heading to polls.

Posts were about:

  • Ombudsman Reports regarding in camera meetings in 2011, 2018, 2022
  • budgets
  • audits
  • over expenditures
  • police costings
  • lack of accountability and transparency
  • lack of commitment to accessibility
  • inaccessible town hall and Gordon House
  • privacy breaches
  • FOI requests
  • priorities
  • inconsistencies
  • dismissive behaviour
  • council divisions
  • lack of decorum
  • conflicts of interest
  • parking

For history buffs

After the historical burg watch was created, the ACRG, Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government created amherstburg1, which was followed by amherstburg2 and then several ‘Amherstburg’ pages and copycats; some still remain anonymous.

The burg watch facilitated three election campaign questions to the candidates and all were a learning experience. The most recent seemed to be the most vicious both in the rumours around town and the personal attacks on me.

Thank you to those who follow and stay connected.

How Those Elected In 2022 Answered

Updates: comments that contain personal attacks will not be published and Candidate Answers 2022 page now lists only those elected that answered as follows: the count only reflects my readers’ and my questions to all of the candidates.

Continuing the 2014 tradition of posting how those elected answered during the campaign.

Michale Prue 0
Chris Gibb 0
Molly Allaire 13
Peter Courtney 1
Linden Crain 1
Donald McArthur 1
Diane Pouget 13

the burg watch questions to candidates 2022

Updated the Candidate Answers 2022 page to include only candidates who answered one or more questions from this blog, including three that answered the following questionnaire.

Do you anticipate having to declare any pecuniary interest? 

What does ‘accessible’ mean to you?

What community groups do you belong to?

What three things would you do to prove the town is committed to Open Government?

Who should determine priorities for the town?

How will you contribute to maintaining decorum at council and committee meetings?

How will you ensure the Boards and Committees Appointment Policy is adhered to?

How will you demonstrate that your decision making reflects the interests of the community as a whole?

What civic engagement methods should the town implement? 

When did the town hold consultations regarding the proposed Libro Trail?

What would you do to change the timeframe for the posting of council and committee minutes?

Are you aware of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy implications of the use of social media?