By Chad Ingram
Last Saturday, Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts and Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy held a town hall meeting in that municipality’s council chambers, one it appears will not be the last.
It was the first such meeting the pair have held, and was an opportunity for residents to ask questions and share ideas with the municipality’s two top politicians. It was well attended, with a few dozen residents cramming the relatively small room that is Dysart et al council chambers. With one of the municipality’s main landfills set to transition to a transfer station next year, it was clear that issues of waste disposal, diversion and recycling are on the minds of many residents, and the first chunk of the meeting included conversation mostly around those issues. There were plenty of other questions and comments too, ones concerning Head Lake Park, and traffic-calming techniques in the Village of Haliburton, and the possibility of charging terminals for electric vehicles.
It was informal, congenial and respectful, punctuated with moments of levity, a conversation between residents and their political representatives. It was a healthy exercise in local democracy, a chance for residents to voice their concerns directly to, and have questions directly answered by, community decision-makers. For the mayor and deputy mayor, it was a chance to take the temperature of the community and gauge people’s priorities. It was great; by all measures a success. Roberts and Kennedy should be applauded for taking the time to host the forum, and indeed, attendees showed their appreciation for the opportunity with a round of applause at the meeting’s conclusion.
Roberts said it was her intention to hold such town hall meetings twice a year, likely in the spring and winter.
The concept of regular town hall meetings is often mentioned during municipal election campaigns, but to see a town hall meeting take place in Haliburton County is a rare occurrence. Another one took place in Dysart et al earlier this year, hosted by Ward 4 Councillor John Smith in West Guilford.
It’s wonderful that it seems like these meetings will become routine in Dysart et al, and Roberts’s and Kennedy’s counterparts in the county’s other municipalities should consider taking up the practice.