Monday, February 22, 2016
The Spring Wind Blew My Staff Report Away
About a year ago, The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that council meetings could not begin with a prayer. Many councils around Nova Scotia substituted the opening prayer with a moment of silence. Some rural councils are still hanging on for dear life and ignoring the ire of local atheists and Satan worshippers.
I, personally, think getting rid of prayer in council meetings was a step in the right direction, but I don't think a moment of silent contemplation goes quite far enough.
You see, The Ivany Report challenged each and every one of us to be BOLD. Many of the general population of Nova Scotia are actually doing that. There is all kinds of innovation going on. Business hubs are being formed, people are turning their garages into breweries, entrepreneurs are taking risks, newcomers have thrown caution to the wind, packed up their lives in other provinces and moved to Nova Scotia with the aim of making it happen. Courage can be seen everywhere. But there is not a lot of courage happening within our town halls.
Yes, there are exceptions, but not many. Mostly, our town halls are hot beds of timidity and fear. How do you explain the word Bold to people that are risk averse down to their very souls? Take for example, the issue of Home-based business in Lunenburg. How many staff reports have been written with the aim of trying to solve the world's most solveable problem. Lunenburg council could have just looked down the road 100km to our largest municipality and said, "Oh, looky here. They are supporting home-based businesses in Halifax. Let's learn from their success. Let's be brave." But that's not what happened. Instead our CAO and deputy CAO whispered fear into our mayor's ear and she listened and then all of council listened and then instead of being BOLD they discussed every scary scenario that might arise if they allowed a house to just be a house. And when they examined staff reports about how things work in other municipalities, they didn't latch on to the possibilities, they latched on to the lowest common denomenator. They aligned their views with every other timid municipality in Nova Scotia. Because that is all they know. Fear.
I'm watching this pattern repeat itself in the current Live/Work task force meetings. The citizens on the committee are preaching BOLD, because many of them are bold in their own lives. But the mayor, council and staff stonewall them with fear and the words, we can't, no, not possible.
So, here's what I propose to remedy the situation. I think at the beginning of every council meeting in every municipality in Nova Scotia, all the councillors should take their shoes and socks off, let down their hair, throw off their glasses, unbutton the two top buttons of their shirts, put on some truly groovy music and just rock out for five minutes. Let it all hang out, stand on the tables, gyrate those hips, arms swaying side to side. Take those staff reports and smoke them. And then, take a seat and get down to the business of being BOLD.
The inspiration for this post comes from one of my favourite songs on earth. You can listen HERE