Leadership vs bureaucradic administration
The Need for Strong, Decisive Leadership
|Owen Sound has the distinction of being the highest taxed
municipality in Southern Ontario, while, at the same time, the community
with the lowest household incomes. The underlying cause of how we earned
this distinction is the scarcity of strong decisive leadership on
Council. The failure of a majority of councilors to reject staff
proposed budgets with increases greater than inflation and their over
reliance on staff reports and consultant studies has been a constant
characteristic of councils over the past 20 years. A case in point ...
On Monday September 12th, John Tamming tabled a motion to explicitly ban Short
Term Rentals (STRs), by non-resident property owners, from areas zoned
residential. You would have thought that this would have been a “no-brainer”,
given our existing zoning bylaws. Also, it was widely known at the time that
action taken by South Bruce Peninsula last Fall, to control STRs, has been very
successful in reducing complaints.
Unfortunately, the motion was only supported by two others, Scott Greig, who is
running for Deputy Mayor this year, and Carol Merton who is running for council.
It would have been very easy for Council to follow South Bruce Peninsula's lead
and establish a licencing program and direct staff to monitor compliance using
the same software used by South Bruce Peninsula. Instead Council voted to direct
staff to produce a report so Council could revisit the topic next year.
Decisive Leaders Assume Risk - without fear
Results-focused leaders, like the three who voted for this motion, are prepared
to take on risk, and make decisions based on the currently available
information. They focus on getting the job done and are not afraid to make a
decision based on the information available at the time. They are also fully
prepared to make adjustments in course in the event that new information becomes
available down the road. However they never put off a decision for months
waiting for the abundance of detail necessary to make a safe, worry free
decision that could never be challenged.
In contrast overly cautious bureaucrats have very little tolerance for risk.
They always want to “flame-proof” their decisions by relying staff
reports and consultant’s studies for support. In the event that things
“go-sideways” or someone criticizes their decisions, they have the pile of staff
studies and consultant’s reports to hide behind.
In the case of the Short Term Rentals (STRs), Council, in a very characteristic
manner, voted to "kick the can down the road" claiming that they could
not make a decision without a staff report and knowing how they were going to
enforce violations. They had a successful example of how to control STRs in the
process established by South Bruce Peninsula, yet, they chose to completely
ignore it, in favour of a staff report. As a result, the affected communities
will have to put up with these "party houses" for another six months. As
well, non-resident investors will be encouraged, by Council's failure to act, to
purchase more income properties in our community thus reducing available housing
for Owen Sound residents.
My last job in uniform was as the commanding officer of a detachment of ship
construction project on the west coast, with a mandate to complete construction
of five ships and run each through an exhaustive set of trials - all with short
timelines and on a limited budget. If I had practiced the safe, risk-free,
bureaucratic decision making process exhibited by the six members of council who
voted against this motion, those ships would still be in dry dock today and I
would have been demoted for displaying a complete lack of decisive leadership.
Owen Sound’s population and prosperity have been trending down for many years.
We have the highest taxes in Southern Ontario and the number of those filing
income taxes on wages has been steadily declining. While, at the same time, the
populations of our neighbouring municipalities have been steadily growing for
the past 20 years. The primary reason for this is a lack of results-focused
leaders on Owen Sound Council who for years have failed to push-back on staff
budget requests and have approved annual taxes increases at a rate greater than
twice the rate of inflation.
One of the strongest results-focused leaders on Council, John Tamming, decided
not to run again in the 2022 elections. A factor in his decision not to run was
his frustration with his bureaucratic colleagues’ lack of decisiveness. I
believe that without John Tamming's leadership the annual savings of
approximately $250,000 that we are currently enjoying from the closure of the
Airport would not have materialized. His absence on the next Council will most
certainly leave a leadership vacuum.
So when you’re considering who to vote for this election ask questions of the
candidates and try to separate the true results-focused leaders, who are capable
of turning things around at city hall, from institutional bureaucrats who will
accelerate Owen Sound’s downhill slide with their endless thirst for staff
studies and consultant reports. We need councilors who are prepared to take on
risk and make decisions in order to restore Owen Sound to the thriving,
prosperous city that it was many years ago.
I find it really hard to believe that this council is not able to make the simplest of decisions without the need for a staff report of an expensive consultant study. I think it's time for us to elect all new people to run our city.
We need a Council that can make a decision without the need to rely on expense studies. Their failure to make a decision on Short Term Rentals was disgusting.
You are 100% right. I've been watching council meets for a few years now and I can't believe how this council is so afraid to make a decision. They have never made a decision that I remember that they've not had staff so a study and bring them a report. I agree that we need a council that can make a decision in a timely fashion and not delay everything for months waiting for more information. They are just too afraid to make a decision.
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