I have decided to return to the Board of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
Given the circumstances that required me to step down, I thought I would post my reasons.
The Mayor has traditionally served on this Board along with a member of Council. When I was a Councillor, I chose to serve on this Board because I believed public health programs are integral to community wellbeing. I still believe this. I served for 6 years alongside Mayor Joe Young.
Upon becoming Mayor, it was understood that I would serve on the Board. This is not legislatively required but had simply been our practice and one that I was pleased to continue. The two Wardens have also generally served on the Board. I served an additional 7 years in my role as Mayor.
I stepped down from the Board at the beginning of this term (2010) because of the Board’s decision to place debt on the City’s financial statements to finance two new facilities. They did so without the City’s consent and led to the City challenging the right of the Board to impact the financial position of the City in this way.
The Board’s decision put me in conflict with my role as Mayor. My priority will always be the citizens of Guelph if I am forced to choose.
While I still disagree with the decision, the judge’s ruling has made it clear that if we want to address this matter we must pursue it with the Province as it is the Province’s legislation that permits the Board to do this.
Bottomline, the Board has approved the two new facilities and they are proceeding.
Fortunately, there has been progress in fostering a more productive relationship with the Board and our partner municipalities.
The development of a Joint Financial Agreement with our municipal partners (the Counties of Wellington and Dufferin) with specific oversight on the construction costs for the new facility has been a positive signal for our Council. The Joint Financial Agreement will help ensure that the project is well managed and kept within agreed costs. It is important for everyone to have the same understanding and shared expectations of the project.
In addition, a representative of Public Health sits on the Leadership Group for the Community Wellbeing Initiative. Her contribution is appreciated and important to the success of this community initiative.