Last night’s city council meeting showed how detail-oriented London councilors really are.
Ward 2 Councillor Bill Armstrong says, “There’s always room for improvement. I’m always here to improve. There’s always room to review. That’s why we’re here”.
As Council reached the second last point on the meeting’s lengthy agenda at around 8 PM, Councillors could finally anticipate home after a long day with the meeting that started at 4, those that work day jobs, and the many who attended Mayor Matt Brown’s State of the city address at the crack of dawn that morning.
Once they turned their attention to a request for an approval of an exception basis, it appeared they could fly through the subject quickly.
A request for $27.09 to cover the costs of three nylon basketball nets at Trafalgar Public school was brought forward by Ward 1 Councillor Michael Van Holst, a rather minor expense in comparison to the $800 000 Council committed to BMO Centre’s expansion earlier.
Van Horst gave his opening remarks and called for his colleagues to sympathize with the students he encountered at a less than affluent London school.
“All I am asking is that we make this exception. I told them I would bring this forward”
Following Van Holst’s comments, seven Councillors signified their desire to speak on the subject. Van Holst had already paid for these basketball nets, but was seeking to be re-reimbursed. Mayor Matt Brown pleaded for speakers to make their comments brief.
“You’re all entitled to five minutes to speak, but try to keep it to a minute and a half. This is twenty-seven dollars.”
Councillor Harold Usher was more than understanding of Van Holst’s request, but questioned the validity of his request, “I’m normally liberal about these things, but we have to make sure this fits our principal”. Usher went on to distinguish that, “if it’s school board jurisdiction, it’s school board jurisdiction”.
Trafalgar Public school’s yard is used by students during the day but is open to all members of the community in the evenings and on weekends.
Several Councillors spoke out about the times they had given to causes out of their own pockets because of the bureaucracy at council.
Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert was the last Councillor besides Van Holst to speak before going to vote. He pointed his remarks directly at Van Holst.
“The questions you have to ask yourself: were you in your role as a Councillor? were you introduced to the students as a Councillor?”
In the end, council voted 8-6 to not reimburse Councillor Van Holst. The kids at Trafalgar Public School and surrounding area are shooting hoops on mesh courtesy of their Councillor.