By Lyonel Doherty
The resounding slap in the face to water councillors in Oliver can still be heard.
From out of nowhere, a legal opinion has prompted council to exclude its water councillors from all discussions except water matters.
Why now after all these years?
Especially when, to our knowledge, there has never been a challenge with allowing water councillors to sit at the table after water matters have been dealt with.
Water councillors are a valuable asset on council and there is no reason not to allow them to continue their contribution.
Rick Machial and Andre Miller, both farmers, have offered valuable insight on many issues other than water and irrigation.
They are well schooled in farming practices and have a ton of life experience, not to mention business savvy that council has benefited from.
Machial can be outspoken at times, but that’s a good thing, and he does it for all of the right reasons.
It appears council had no ill intentions when it made the decision, but the way it was carried out was rather cold – even Miller admitted his shock upon receiving the lawyers papers.
Machial and Miller have served in their capacity for 28 years, offering their knowledge on a variety of topics and guiding the Town to good decisions.
So why not let them continue doing that?
Why is council trying to fix what isn’t broken?
When the new council is formed, water councillors either have to go home or sit in the public gallery after water matters have been dealt with.
Town management says the decision was made to ensure good governance – one of its strategic priorities. But how is keeping water councillors at the table potentially putting the Town in a “precarious position?” This is not explained.
Sometimes we lose sight of what is really important when legalities and liabilities rear their ugly heads. We tend to worry more about being challenged and covering butts than the human factor.
We see no problem with letting water councillors sit at the table for the whole meeting. If someone complains, then deal with it and make a decision.
Why any board or council would close the door on a valuable resource is baffling.