Theatre of the Absurd.
I was giddy with laughter as I made the joke initially, at 11 p.m. Monday night.
But shortly afterwards as I drove home, I was disappointed, perhaps even slightly peeved, at how accurate the description was.
This week’s Barrie council meeting was perhaps one of the worst I’ve ever attended in my eight years covering City Hall, perhaps among the worst meetings I’ve ever attended in my 25 years as a reporter.
There were decisions, some with rationales and others without, that made the mind boggle.
There was the quote from Mayor Dave Aspden about train whistles; they disturb people in long-term care centres, including the one for the deaf. Despite a $10,000 study recommending the city keep the whistle or face virtually unlimited liability, city councillors opted to silence the whistle.
OK. It’s a quality of life issue – and they were within their right to make that decision. That’s what politicians are elected to do: make tough decisions that balance the good of the corporation with the good that is quality of life.
Despite stretching their necks out to stop the whistle, they wouldn’t move a fraction of an inch to bolster quality of life in the southwest area of the city, the area south of Dunlop Street and west of Highway 400.
Residents there have been asking for some sort of library service – at least a pick-up/drop-off service. Obstacle after obstacle has been put in the way of this basic request, justified by the city’s plans to open a southend branch in Painswick.
But when we examine quality of life, the branch that will open late in 2010 won’t be any more convenient for southwest residents than the downtown library. In fact, the post-commute drive to downtown Barrie is likely easier than the trek along Mapleview Drive to Painswick would be.
Still, councillors refused to allow two southwest councillors the opportunity to consult with their residents about library services they’d find most useful.
What? Refuse to consult citizens about a service they pay for? This, from a council that claims one of its strategic priorities is “ensure proactive communications with the public?”
They also argued about whether to support a federal recreation renewal grant application to renovate the Eastview Arena – a project the city has wanted to do but couldn’t afford to do – and add an artificial ice rink to the city stock.
The mind boggled here for a few reasons, including the possibility of risking federal funding, fixing an old arena that could go the way of Dunlop Arena due to neglect, and enhancing public opportunities to skate and play hockey in a neighbourhood.
They argued too about money to upgrade 36 Mulcaster St., former MPP Joe Tascona’s constituency office, for public use for a new museum partnership between the Grey and Simcoe Foresters and the Barrie Historical Association.
It really was theatre of the absurd. Thankfully, the curtain fell at 11 p.m.