John Taylor, the dean of Burlington city council was first elected in 1988 when council had 17 members.
Now 67, he has been a model of decorum in the chambers under the leadership of five different mayors.
But now that only seven politicians govern the city John Taylor, who represents Ward 3, lost his cool at the January meeting after a motion to have two councillors appointed to the board of Conservation Halton was defeated.
“It’s a sad day around this table, in the 26 years I’ve been here,” he said. “I’m ashamed to be a member of this council. It’s the first time I’ve ever said that.”
Mayor Rick Goldring had nominated both Taylor and Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward to serve on the board, but at a previous committee meeting a majority of council decided to have just one councillor appointed.
When that happened Taylor, who has served on Conservation Halton for the
two previous terms, withdrew his name, leaving Meed Ward as the only appointee.
The decision, along with others to remove Meed Ward from the boards of Joseph Brant Hospital and Burlington Downtown, is seen by some as a not-too-subtle effort to curtail her clout at the table. Since she was first elected in 2010, Meed Ward has been a rebel rouser and more conservative reps could be concerned she will run for mayor in the next term.
Taylor said in the last four terms of council Burlington has been the only municipality in Halton with solely citizen representation on the Conservation Halton board.
He said he was the only Burlington councillor on the board in the previous term, simply because no other member of council volunteered. Prior to that, Burlington had two councillors sitting dating back to 1996.
Mayor Rob Burton of Oakville and Gordon Krantz of Milton are both on the board.
Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, who supported Taylor, said Burlington is outnumbered and it is putting the City at a disadvantage.
“The decision must be what is best for the City of Burlington,” he said. “We need to have two council reps, maybe we should even have four like Oakville does.”
Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster, who opposed the motion, said she was concerned about council’s current workload.
“I don’t think it’s best practice for us to stack these boards with council members,” she said. “We have three excellent citizen members on Conservation Halton.”
Lancaster also said she believes council members should rotate and not necessarily be appointed to the same board they served on in the previous term.
“Councillor Taylor withdrew his name and Councillor Meed Ward was appointed by council,” she said. “I was quite happy with that.”
Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman said he was satisfied with having one council appointee, as had been decided at the committee meeting.
“To move people around just to satisfy egos is like moving deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said.
Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven said the majority of council had ruled on the matter at the committee level.
“Conservation Halton is small potatoes compared to the Police Services Board and Burlington has only one representative on that board,” he said. “Oakville has two, but nobody seems to be concerned.”
Meed Ward told The Bay Observer she was disappointed to be voted off Burlington Downtown, since that area is in her ward.
“I believe there are some undercurrents of negativity that I find very destructive to this council,” she said. “We need to get to focusing on what is in the best interests of the community.”
Meed Ward had served on the hospital board for six years, starting there as a citizen appointee before she was elected and said she would have liked to continue.
Later Taylor said in voting against reconsideration Councillors Craven, Lancaster and Sharman relied on negative personal perceptions.
“I was annoyed we were letting personalities govern decisions, rather than performances,” he said.
Councillor Sharman is now on the hospital board and Meed Ward is on the senior citizens board. Meed Ward was replaced as the council representative on Downtown Burlington by Councillor Lancaster
Conservation Halton is a corporate body established under the Conservation Authorities Act of Ontario to manage watershed resources and related conservation projects in partnership with its member municipalities and the Province.
By: Dennis Gibbons