Sitting in the council chamber on Monday afternoon was a little bit like sitting in Grade 11 history class in mid-June with the summer break teasing me from a distance.
Don't get me wrong, I loved history class, it was one of my favourite subjects, but there comes a time when you just need a break, and while I quite enjoy council meetings (far more than I let on actually), it has been a long year, and I will be quite happy to have the month of August free from the council chamber.
Members of council can no doubt use a break as well. At Monday's meeting, which was largely dull but also very productive, council had a lengthy and at times scary discussion about bridge infrastructure. This is a council that desperately wants to find a way to address our infrastructure needs without resorting to closing any bridges. And for bridge-like structures 21 and 22 on the Holland-Sydenham Townline, which have been closed for a couple years now, this council wants to find a way to replace and reopen them.
From my seat at the media table I can see members of council becoming frustrated with their inability to quickly solve the issue for the folks who rely on bridges 21 and 22, and it is frustrating, but then again it is no secret that government moves slowly, not by the choice of members of council but due to the way our system has been designed. So while councillors would love nothing more than to be able to yell from the rooftops that they will have working bridges at that location very soon, they can't, but they are certainly working toward that outcome.
As much as councillors are working hard to avoid bridge closures (in spite of misinformed rumours on the street) I think they too are due for a break. When I see councillors asking questions that have been answered a dozen times previously, or when I see members of council agonizing over what they are unable to do, it is clear that they are exhausted, and who can blame them? I shadow these folks in a sense, and I am exhausted too.
So like a high school kid with the end of the school year in sight, I am giddy with anticipation, and I am looking forward to a full month free from the council chamber, a month without motions and votes, a month where I don't feel an urge to scream across the council chamber “read the reports!!” when councillors are asking questions for which they have already been provided the answers.
I plan to enjoy not having to read through the hundreds of pages of reports included in a typical council meeting agenda package, I plan to not stress about the infrastructure funding deficit, or the fact that residents confuse master plans with binding documents. For me the month of August will be gloriously free of anything council related. That said, I know that by August 26 I will be itching to get back to the council chamber, and I will be frustrated that it will still be a couple of weeks away.
While council won't be in session next month, that doesn't mean that the myriad issues that are found in this municipality are put on hold. The cemetery maintenance issue isn't going to go away, nor will the complaints about potholes or the many other demands that are placed on council. But the August break should mean that in September councillors can return to the horseshoe rested and refreshed and ready to tackle all of the issues before them.
No more agendas, no more Clerks (sorry Mr. Smith), no more councillors' dirty looks...