By Trevor Busch
Town council is postponing a proposed Emergency Services Building Open House from January until mid-March 2019 to allow further time for preparation.
On Oct. 9, town council had directed administration to schedule an open house with the citizens of the Town of Taber to be held during the third week of January 2019 to discuss an Emergency Services Building within the town.
The scheduling of the open house came on the heels of council rescinding a previous motion from August 20 to re-locate the present fire hall to a location near 50th Street and 52nd Avenue after citizen protest erupted in the wake of the decision. But on Nov. 26, Coun. Jack Brewin would suggest postponing any January open house to March to allow more time for council and administration to weigh the facts.
“Perhaps we should move this open house to March to allow a little more time to go over the facts. I’m in favour of hiring a consultant and third party, and having a consultant so there are no questions — so that we’re fully prepared, hopefully there are no questions but we have to answer some questions.”
Administration would also suggest council consider hiring a third-party facilitator to allow administration to take an impartial role in the process and allow council to seek the information they need from the public.
“I agree with Councillor Brewin, I think the March date would give us plenty of time to get our ducks in a row, and I do agree we need to have a facilitator aboard,” said Coun. Louie Tams, who put forward the original motion on Oct. 9. “Hopefully all the questions that need to be asked come out of that meeting so we can proceed and move ahead as a council.”
Mayor Andrew Prokop expressed reservations about postponing the open house considering the public backlash the town received over its previous decision.
“I don’t know, a two-month delay may not be practical, and fair and reasonable to what was suggested in the earlier motion.”
Tams would acknowledge this, but still pressed for a postponement.
“It might not be, but I think in the same breath the comment from Councillor Brewin makes perfectly good sense to me. Let’s make sure that we have what we as council want, and envision out of this, so we can have a question and answer period and our ducks in a row.”
Also onboard with the suggestion to hire a third-party facilitator, Coun. Joe Strojwas advocated for a working session for town council prior to the open house.
“We need to have a working session with the facilitator to make sure that we all are bought into this here, so that we can proceed, so that we do have all of the right answers to be given at that time.”
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to postpone the Emergency Services Building Open House to a date in mid-March from 7-9 p.m. at the Heritage Inn, and to hire a consultant and third-party facilitator to assist with the meeting.
Administration’s recommended motion, which was ultimately declined by town council, was to accept the date of Jan. 16, 2019 from 7-9 p.m. at the Heritage Inn for their open house relating to the Emergency Services Building.
It was noted that administration had already “booked the Heritage Inn from 6-10 p.m.” for the planned Jan. 16 open house.