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A long, long wait for council

(Cartoon by George Langley)

The residents of Oshawa have spoken and chosen their next city council, and there are no lack of issues that will need to be addressed.

While we are only about a week departed from the municipal election, hopefully elected officials are already digging deep into what lies ahead of them for the next scheduled council meeting on Dec. 3.

The previous meeting was held on Sept. 24 and it was a memorable one. At that time, council chose not to accept an agreement with the Oshawa Port Authority to build a private driveway to extend Harbour Road.

Declining the agreement led the port authority to trigger a 1976 agreement that binds the city to construct a full-service road.

Whatever side of that argument you are on, council had its back up against a wall and had to make a decision.

It seems unfortunate that council, staff, and residents were essentially left in limbo on this critical issue for two months.

There is not much the city or any other municipality can do, as the Municipal Elections Act dictates that the new term begin on Dec. 1. This date falls on a Saturday, meaning Dec. 3 is the earliest a meeting can be held.

Perhaps its time for the province to reconsider this rule so municipalities can get back to their business sooner than later.

And while councillors do require orientation and have to get up to speed, it isn’t an unreasonable expectation that they are knowledgeable on these issues already and able to hit the ground running.

Apart from the port issue are the upcoming capital and operating budgets, no trivial tasks either.

An earlier kick at the can may allow council to find its united voice because while all members bring their individual skill sets to the table, a successful budget is ultimately the result of a cohesive effort.

Moving the start of the council term up a few weeks, or at least affording municipalities the choice, would be beneficial for all.