The November 18th meeting of County Council saw a new guiding document passed by councillors, the new Strategic Plan. This plan, developed by the 12 councillors who represent the six lower-tier municipalities that make up the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, lays out four clear guiding principles, and five strategic priorities for the remainder of this council’s four year term. Key among those priorities: partnerships are essential for the county to succeed, no part of the county should be left behind, and the Counties will take a smarter approach to service delivery. These are great priorities to have.
However within 30 minutes of passing this strategic plan, half of the councillors voted to completely ignore it and return to their own township silos. In a 6-5 vote, councillors chose to kill over half of a year of planning and counties staff work on a $2M radio communications plan that would have seen a modern SD&G radio network for use by the county’s roads department, one which could also be used for fire and dispatch services by all six municipalities in SD&G.
This plan would allow municipalities like South Dundas and South Glengarry to join immediately when replacing their Fire and Emergency Services communications equipment. This system would have allowed others to join as required, when required. A centralized radio network would have had wide-ranging implications for modernizing service delivery for upper and lower tiers of government.
Instead, years-old grievances and petty attitudes saw this first planned cooperation cast into the dumpster, despite the strategic plan council had just passed. This is the definition of hypocrisy.
Communications was just the first cooperative project that council embarked on, in the name of progress. The next project occupying staff time will be the county-wide waste management strategy. Why bother wasting time and money on this, when some on county council only seem interested in cooperating with others when it suits their specific agendas, and not when it could be of benefit to the whole county?
The teaching moment from the radio project cancellation is two-fold. Either county council can choose to work as one for the remaining three years and adhere to the principles just agreed to; or councillors can accept they wish to remain in their silos. If so, hopefully they won’t waste any more time and money on pursuing projects they have no intention to follow through on.