Editorial: A rough start

by Andru McCracken, Editor


Newly elected mayor Eugene Runtz was upset that council chose to send acclaimed councillor Al Frederick to regional district meetings in Prince George on behalf of the Village of McBride. I know why his feathers are ruffled, but he should be grateful someone else was willing to take on that work.

The regional district is like a broken truck seat.

A friend of mine had a problem with the automatic seat control in his truck. I saw him drive by with his nose almost touching the windshield. I asked him what was up and he said the controls were screwed up during an accident so that the seat could only move in one direction: forwards towards the steering wheel. A replacement seat was massively expensive, so he worked on it himself. He would have brought it into the shop, but he needed his truck for work every day. Each time he or his wife got in the truck it seemed to trigger the seat a little more forward. I know a thing or two about electronics so I asked if I could help. I poked at the controls and all the sudden I heard “Zzzt.” The seat moved beautifully.

Forward.

The Regional District is kind of like that truck seat. It moves really well, but only in one direction.

Creating new services is easy (it just takes some work, like holding a referendum), but reducing the level of service or adapting to change is unheard of. Did the Regional District scale back services or curtail spending when the mill closed (which had a massive impact on local taxes)? Hell, no. In their defence, they did come to the valley and say, “Your taxes are going up.”
The Regional District is just not set up to respond.

Municipalities on the other hand can make changes in real time. They have the ability to take resources set aside for one service and throw it at another in a pinch. The Regional District does not work this way.

McBride needs help to get back on track and they need it right now.  The Regional District is not the place to make any change in the short term. The job of reforming the regional district should be relegated to someone who has a lot of time on their hands. Like, decades.

In short: the regional district is the last place Eugene Runtz should be spending his time. Many have tried and failed to make the organization more responsive. Don’t poke at it; it will just make it worse.

Council made a mistake at its inaugural meeting. The newly acclaimed councillors chose to send Al Frederick to the Regional District without considering Mayor Runtz’ feelings or wishes. How, exactly, is this council going to work?

Many of the people that I have spoken to think Eugene Runtz is going to be a great mayor. He has a natural transparency that comes with confidence and competence in his profession. The reason that confidence is important is because it is going to help him build a team. But he’s been thrown off kilter and taken this first move as an insult –  a sign that council isn’t particularly interested in working with him. I see it differently, but I can’t say I blame him.

The opportunity to serve on council is a rare and special thing: council has the ability to make really important changes that can affect the community in a big way in short order, quite unlike the Regional District, but council is going to need to work together as a team to move forward.

To Eugene and all the councillors: How are you going to to become a team?  Will council meetings get frostier and frostier or are you going to find a way to work together?

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