March 13, 2018

CONTRACT AWARDED

In a recorded vote at the February 20, 2018 meeting, Council voted to award the Storm Water Management Plan (SMP) contract to Emmons, Olivier Resources (EOR).
The vote:

For: Deputy Mayor Roger McMurray, Councillors Steven Baker, John Martinello and Brian Ostrander.
Against: Mayor Mark Walas, Councillors Mary Tadman and Laura Vink.

EOR appears highly qualified and had no hesitation in publicly sharing its Brighton proposal. In fact, the company e-mailed its proposal the same day that a request for a copy was made by a Brighton resident.

EOR has not previously worked for the Municipality of Brighton or for that matter any developers in Brighton.  They bring a fresh perspective to the issue of storm water management. EOR attended the Brighton Council Meeting on February 5, 2018 to answer questions from Council. At that meeting EOR staff demonstrated a high level of professionalism and their knowledge & expertise was clearly evident.

THE COMPETITION

The other company that bid on the contract was G.D. Jewell Engineering (GDJE). This company WOULD NOT share its proposal with the public.  Not even Council was permitted to see the GDJE proposal.

In fact, "Staff" felt it necessary to seek legal opinion to "justify" GDJE not releasing the proposal. This despite the fact the Municipal Request For Proposal (RFP) clearly states that proposals may be made public.

GDJE answered questions from Councillors at the February 20, 2018 Council Meeting. The presentation was less than impressive. It smacked of secrecy and a 'same old, same old' approach to what is a serious problem in the Municipality.

During this term of Council, GD Jewell Engineering (GDJE) has:

  • Performed the Municipal engineering peer review functions
  • Represented Mark Walas's company (952849 Ontario Ltd.) before Council
  • Most recently represented Mark Walas' company during discussion of Proctor Park Condo proposed development.

STORMWATER ISSUES

On a number of occasions, long-time residents and new homeowners have come forward to Council with concerns about storm water management. This comes after months and even years of getting nowhere with staff regarding complaints about the negative impact of storm water runoff and the management of retention ponds at new developments.

Staff, consultants and developers insist that everything is fine and yet homeowners are left to deal with flooded basements, sump pumps running 24/7, and water pooling on roadways and properties.

The Municipality is supposed to provide the necessary oversight so that citizens and prospective home buyers are protected.  This is done by ensuring that developers follow all by-laws & regulations such as:

  • building & fire codes,
  • construction site control/signs
  • management of storm water runoff & site drainage

DISCUSSION

GDJE not only does work for developers in Brighton, including the Mayor, GDJE is also hired by the Municipality to act as the municipal peer review engineer, thereby reviewing its own work.

Furthermore, GDJE refused to release its proposal for a SMP, even though the RFP states such and Council requested it.

To top it off, "Staff" chose to seek a legal opinion in an attempt to support GDJE's so-called right to confidentiality.

This smacks of a conflict of interest.

COUNCIL PITTED AGAINST STAFF

There are numerous instances of staff complaining because they claim certain councillors are overstepping their bounds.  On the other hand Councillors have exhibited frustration and subsequent anger after not getting answers to the issues that they raise.  They feel they are not getting answers and are being given the run-around by staff and by Mayor Walas. Brighton's Council meetings are not for the faint of heart.

The March 5, 2018 meeting was a tipping point. Two reports (Agenda items 9.3 and 9.4) were put forward by "Staff".  These items should never have been put on the Agenda since they amounted to a refusal to work by “Staff”.  Normally this would not be tolerated in the private sector.

Furthermore, Mayor Walas made the following comment after discussion of item 9.3:

"The problem we seem to have is that council’s role is governance, not operations.”

Council's role as elected officials is to "govern the operations" of the municipality, hold wisely onto the purse strings, make decisions that are in the best interests of the taxpayers/citizens and the municipality as a whole.  Council’s job is to function as the watch dog of staff and operations. Otherwise, why have a Council at all?

If something isn't going well, it is incumbent upon our elected officials to go after the truth and not allow things to be swept under the rug, or ignored. To blindly endorse staff recommendations, particularly under the circumstances that exist in Brighton, would just be plain wrong.

An election will not fix these problems. Much appears to be broken in Brighton and runs much deeper than Council itself.