By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES –The committees for the newly town council were formed during its first meeting on Oct. 6. These committees oversee the town’s role in key area, ranging from public works to health care.
New Mayor Brian Button has put himself on a number of these committees. Being mayor is busy enough, but Button is confident that he will have the time necessary to participate.
“I kind of structured myself around ones that I would be probably sitting in on most cases anyway, because in most times when it comes to finance and human resources, which I put myself on, and economic development, the mayor is heavily involved in those particular files anyway. So I put myself on there so I could balance out the workload for everybody,” said Button.
Button is sitting on the Financial and Human Resources Committee, the Economic Development Committee, the Health Care Issues Committee, the Disaster Committee, and the Urban Municipalities Committee. He noted that in his previous experience on councils, the mayor would usually sit on some committees.
For the other members of council, Button explained that choosing who would sit on each committee was based on the individual strengths and experience of each councillor.
“For some cases it’s been returning councillors, so they might have returned to some of the committee work that they did in the past. Also, for the new members, you know, I kind of looked at where they might be best suited in things that I’ve seen them do, or participate, and things they’ve been involved with,” said Button.
While he is still getting to know the strengths of each councillor, Button believes they are off to a good start with the committees.
“You try to do it the best that you can, you know, because I’m not familiar with everybody’s forté. We’ll see what they can do, but for the most part you’ve got a general idea and we’ve got good direction when it comes to any of the committee structures.”
Another factor considered was making sure no one councillor was taking on too much.
“I try to balance it out so that, you know, you don’t have one or two councillors having more than the other councillors,” said Button. “I kind of try to balance it out and keep it fair that nobody is really doing any more than the other one.”
The mayor said that an advantage with the new council is the mix of new and old councillors sitting on these committees.
“We’re fortunate that we have a split within our council. We have three new and three returning, so that way you’re allowed to, you know, it allows you to put a bit of experience on committees as well, to go along with the new members.”
The committee structures, however, are not set in stone. Should the need arise, the makeup of the committees can be changed to better benefit the community.
“I think for the most part we can work around everybody. When it comes to the inner stuff within council, the only time we’ll have difficulty is when we’re sitting on organizations outside of the council table, and they have their own meeting times. That could become somewhat of an issue for some people.”
When the committee structures were looked at, it was noticed that councillor Todd Strickland, who works as a nurse, was not on the Health Care Issues Committee. This seemed a missed opportunity for key insights from someone in the healthcare profession, but Button explained there was a reason behind that decision.
“I looked at that two ways. I didn’t want to put Councillor Strickland in a conflict either, you know, working within the organization and working at LeGrow,” said Button. “I didn’t want to find himself sitting in a position where he has a duty to his employer as well, when it comes to confidentiality, and so on and so forth. And I don’t want to put him in a position where he may feel that, all of a sudden, he’s in a conflict when it comes to dealing with health care issues. But like I said, for the most part when it comes to health care, you’re going to have all councillors because it is, as I’ve said in the past, it is a number one issue always for any council.”
Additionally, when the committee structures were examined, it was found that Councillor Strickland was chairing the Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce Committee. Strickland is also the President of the Chamber of Commerce, which may seem a conflict of interest, but Mayor Button is confident this is not the case.
“Well, he’s the chair and well I guess he became the chair because he ended up as a representative from council in the past, and where he’s still the chair, I thought he would be the best person to, you know, keep on the Chamber of Commerce. He’s already there, already established, and he’s chairing the board for them. So until that time changes or any changes, and he wants a change of scenery, well, we’ll keep it as is for now,” said Button.
He also explained that co-operation between the council and the Chamber of Commerce is key for many of the positive developments in the community.
Said Button, “A lot of times over the years we’ve partnered together on different things, and from time to time we need each other in order to be able to move forward. And you know, we’ve had a good partnership for many years, and so I trust that that would be the same as we go forward. I can’t see it being any different, to tell you the truth.”