Cartmell says councillors received a damning report in the last month. It indicated that this group of councillors, in its first year since being elected, has spent about twice as much time in council and committee meetings as the previous group of councillors did under then-mayor Don Iveson in their first year after the 2017 election.
He believes the reason the debates have become so elongated is because councillors have become micromanagers. Eight of the 12 councillors elected in 2021 are new to chamber. It’s a rookie-laden council.
“A report comes in and, no matter what it says, it won’t be good enough,” he says. “And it will spawn three more motions for three more reports. And the work never gets done.”
When meetings run overtime, or matters get kicked back to administration for more work, staff have to hang on. It’s not just council doubling its own time, those hours are eaten away from staff.
“It’s tiresome for everyone,” says Cartmell. “And the burn rate on those meetings are in the thousands of dollars. All those people, sitting around, waiting their turn. It’s ridiculous.”
A concrete crusher may not seem like an item of overwhelming importance. But a motion last week from Councillor Erin Rutherford, which was approved by council by a narrow 7-5 margin, paused a planned ending to the City’s aggregate recycling program. Four years ago, the previous council decided to close the crusher and end this program, which pummels concrete into gravel. The decision, in Cartmell’s mind, was done and dusted. It was part of that council’s work to wade through what he called the “hot mess” that was the waste management department.