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Grey County councillors vote against being more informed

Soever said with a wave of development approaching having the data available would help county council make more informed decisions
Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 9.04.36 AM
The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever. Contributed photo

Grey County councillors have rejected a resolution that would have seen the county begin to more thoroughly track data on a number of fronts including social, economic, environmental, technological and health trends.

At its meeting on July 28, councillors lined up to vote against a resolution brought forward by The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever that called for a staff report to outline a process/plan to begin tracking a number of data points as outlined in the county’s official plan.

The full text of Soever’s lengthy motion can be found on the agenda for the meeting.

Soever said he brought the resolution forward, after consultations with CAO Kim Wingrove and Warden Selwyn Hicks, because the county should be tracking the data.

“Our official plan does call for the tracking and collecting of a bunch of different data, which is to be done on an annual basis,” said Soever, who said during a recent OLT hearing he sought out some of the data in his resolution, but was unable to find it. “We aren’t collecting the data our official plan suggests we should be collecting.”

Soever acknowledged that the tracking of the data he asked for would be a lot of work, but he said it would lead to county council making better and more informed decisions. He said with an unprecedented wave of development approaching the local area, it was critical to have full information available.

County planning director Scott Taylor said the information requested in Soever’s resolution is on the radar of county staff. Taylor said county staff, should the resolution pass, could quickly put together a preliminary report on how to proceed, with a more complete plan to follow.

“It will take a bit of time to bring together. We’re still looking at tracking this data,” said Taylor.

In a somewhat unusual display, members of county council lined up to reject the resolution from Soever en masse, virtually without comment.

“I feel this is a bit of an insult to staff. I can’t support this motion,” said Grey Highlands Deputy Aakash Desai, the only councillor other than Soever to comment.

Soever, who attended the meeting virtually, appeared to be surprised by Desai’s comments.

“I’m not suggesting our staff are not excellent staff. It’s council’s job to provide oversight and direction,” he said, noting that he felt the lack of data tracking was a gap that should be filled. “I’m not being critical of staff, I’m merely fulfilling my responsibilities as a councillor.”

Desai countered by saying there were other avenues available on the issue.

“It could have been a question to the CAO that could have been answered,” he said.

In a recorded vote, only Soever, The Blue Mountains Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon and Warden Hicks supported the resolution. Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen was absent for the vote.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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