FANHCA would like to congratulate all candidates in the 2017 North Hatley Municipal Election. Much effort went into the campaign, issues were strongly discussed and the results show that nearly half those who voted were looking for change.
The widest margin between candidates was 59% to 41%, the narrowest 51% to 49%. There were 551 eligible voters for this election and, on average, 158 of the 359 people who did vote supported candidates who had not been members of the previous council, and a minimum 46% of voters supported at least two non-incumbent candidates.
Important questions regarding the future of the town were asked in a questionnaire circulated to all twelve candidates (one later withdrew) on October 8, the results of which were published on October 23. Unfortunately, of all the incumbent councillors, only one chose to respond.
It should be stressed that this was no landslide, and we trust that the councillors who have been re-elected will realize that citizens expect it not to be business as usual at Town Hall.
There must not be a return to the silent, secretive ways of the previous administration. There must never be another fiasco like the last-minute meeting to issue a demolition permit for a heritage building in the heart of our town. The long-planned demolition bylaw must be passed without delay, and it must have teeth.
In an interview published by FANHCA on August 9, 2017, Mayor Page commented enthusiastically on the need to upgrade the so-called Town Square – the Grist Mill, Marina and Mill Street area – and the need to provide shops, services and activities, pedestrian areas, focal points and other attractions. The mayor also acknowledged the need for a vision for the future. More than an electioneering stance, this commitment must be carried forward into his new term of office.
The committees of Council must be respected in their deliberations and recommendations. The residents and property owners of the town – all of them, whatever their citizenship and whatever their residence, newcomers as well as long-time residents, seniors as well as young families – must all be consulted on a regular basis on decisions affecting the future of the town.
We are a small town of some 650 people; surely attempts can, must and will be made and structures put in place to ensure decisions are taken based on consensus, and on the input of fully-informed citizens. We cannot return to the norm of simply ‘fulfilling the legal obligations’ of office but, instead, council must make every attempt to be open, transparent and responsive.
The results of the election show that the town is deeply divided. Rather than exacerbating these divisions, Council should make every attempt to overcome them and to arrive at solutions to the benefit and satisfaction of the vast majority of all who live in North Hatley.
Brian Merrett and Paul St-Pierre, with thanks to Jane Meagher
Election results are available here : https://donnees.electionsmunicipales.quebec/resultats/resultats.html?v=45050
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