CLARENVILLE, N.L. – The Town of Clarenville will not have representation at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference and trade show this spring.
During its March 12 meeting, members of council voted 4-2 against sending councillors to the national convention, which is scheduled for May 30 to June 2 in Quebec City.
The matter was presented by Coun. John Pickett, who advocated for councillors to be able to attend national conventions. He says the discussion arose from the finance, administration and planning committee meeting.
While the policy exists for councillors or senior staff to be able to attend national conventions, for the past several years, council has elected to not send delegates as a cost-saving measure.
The policy states a councillor is eligible to attend one national conference during a four-year term.
Pickett argued the conventions were “money well spent,” and worthwhile for councillors as a learning experience.
“They can get a great deal of information to bring back to their communities to better their communities and better themselves,” said Pickett.
He referenced past conventions during his previous stint as a councillor as great experiences.
“I’d like to think, in the future, it would be a great recruitment tool (for councillors).”
While Coun. Paul Tilley said he agreed with much of Pickett’s argument, he says councillors do attend provincial conferences, which are very similar and much cheaper.
“Are there benefits to going to national conferences? No doubt about it … but I think we can receive almost the same degree of education by going to the provincial ones,” said Tilley.
Pickett disagreed and went on to argue national conferences are completely different from provincial conferences.
Deputy Mayor Heber Smith says the town’s policy can remain as is, and if they can justify the added expense on a yearly basis, they can send delegates to a national event.
He also referenced the remuneration for councillors was increased because the federal government cut the tax break for elected municipal representatives, and how they looked for cost-savings throughout their budgeting process this year.
“I think it’s prudent for us to forego the conference this year as a cost-saving measure,” said Smith.
Pickett and Nicholl voted in favour of sending councillors. Smith, Mayor Frazer Russell and councilors Bill Bailey and Tilley opposed the motion. Coun. Lloyd Parrott was not in attendance.