Not long ago, Santa Claus was looking over his naughty and nice list for the good people of The Blue Mountains and his updates proved interesting.
All in all, 2017 was a somewhat quieter and less tumultuous year than 2016, although the after-shocks of that particular annus horribilis were still reverberating.
It’s very much a mixed bag of results, though, with many of the same people with their feet firmly planted in both the naughty and nice list.
That includes the town council, who began to make overtures towards diffusing some of the acrimony of 2016 with attempts to improve communications with the public. They get laurel leaves for those efforts.
However, they also get lumps of coal for mishandling some of the lingering public anger and resentment. The ongoing saga of Coun. Michael Seguin and the harassment complaints against him have yet to be settled. Considering he has now taken the matter to court, you can hardly call that a win-win.
As noted in previous editorials, the town’s handling of the situation has been ham-handed at best, with other municipalities facing similar complaints dealing with them in a much more open fashion.
Keep working at it, councillors, and improvement will come in time.
At least, though, we can honestly say The Blue Mountains has been less of a circus than their counterparts in the South Bruce Peninsula. Santa is going to use up a lot of lumps of coal over the situation where legal troubles have ended in declaring a council seat vacant. If you want to watch a political circus, train your eyes west.
The council and staff are also due some applause for launching a streaming service to air council and committee meetings. While the launch was glitchy, it’s a smart move on behalf of the town to make itself more accessible to the public, particularly during the temperamental winter weather.
Laurels also go out to the library board, particularly for their efforts to hold public information sessions during the summer and the thoughtful hiring of a new chief administrative officer for the library.
The consultation sessions were well-attended for the most part, and saw some spirited debate and back and forth with the board and the public, allowing both a chance to vent.
However, the board’s final report on the consultation sessions threatened to serve up more controversy, as some members of the VOCAL group didn’t particularly care for the content.
An open letter sent out by the board criticizing those concerns was once again a heavy-handed approach, and didn’t help the situation at all.
While you can’t please everyone all of the time, more work is definitely needed here.
On the nice list – provisionally, anyway – are the community members who care enough about what happens in the town to keep the council’s feet to the fire, as well as other municipal boards and committees.
It’s always good to see that kind of interest being generated, and particularly so since the acrimony of 2016 has settled down a bit.
However, some of those same people edged their way on to the naughty list with a self-destructive approach to airing their concerns.
That was most evident during the library consultations. When a board member such as Maurice Pepper finds it necessary to comment that board critics were more than a little aggressive in their approach, it’s an indication the situation has gone somewhat past the stage of being able to discuss matters in a civil fashion.
At that point, dialogue between the two sides is likely to become less than productive.
As the cliche goes, you catch more flies with honey… and that’s something for everyone to consider.
Definitely on the nice list is the Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club for its tireless efforts to better the town in so many ways.
From the building of a new gazebo at Ravenna to the ongoing success of the Apple Run – in its various permutations – the club is nothing but a sheer credit to the community and deserves thanks from everyone.
On the nice list we will also find Beaver Valley Outreach, which was successful in finding a new headquarters at the former Pipers Restaurant. although it will take months to fully establish itself.
That’s a great move for the community, and let’s not forget BVO’s fundraising campaign to help pay for the new headquarters. As always, it’s an organization well worth supporting.
And with that, the Thornbury Paper wishes all a Merry Christmas, and to all a good night!