The summary of the November 27, 2018 Aurora Council meeting highlights the majority of comments made on video. This was the last meeting of Council Term 2014-2018 (Mayor Geoff Dawe, Cllr (Deputy Mayor) John Abel, Cllr Wendy Gaertner, Cllr Tom Mrakas, Cllr Sandra Humfryes, Cllr Jeff Thom, Cllr Harold Kim, Cllr Michael Thompson, Cllr Paul Pirri). Follow video links to watch comments in full. For Council meeting content and decisions made refer to the meeting agenda and meeting minutes.
Video Link: https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q (total time of 47 min 50 sec)
Council Term 2014-2018 was the last term where Aurora Council composition consisted of one Mayor and eight Councillors; for the following term Council composition became one Mayor and six Councillors.
Refer to the video keywords below to determine if you’re interested in reading this lengthy post.
VIDEO KEYWORDS: Tim Jones, Tim Jones Trail, The Armoury, Library Square, Finance Advisory Committee, Stable Neighbourhoods, Aurora Family Leisure Complex, Joint Operation Centre, Niagara College, Museum, Heritage Advisory Committee, Heritage Designations of Yonge Street Properties
At 00:02:23 DELEGATION from former Mayor Tim Jones (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=99) – Mayor Geoff Dawe asked “That the provisions of the Procedural By-law be waived to permit the addition of a delegation from former mayor Tim Jones.”
Mr. Jones (resident) extended congratulations to Mayor-Elect Tom Mrakas, the members of Council that were re-elected, and the new Councillors-elect (Rachel Gilliland, John Gallo). He expressed appreciation to outgoing Councillors Jeff Thom, Paul Pirri, John Abel and Mayor Geoff Dawe for their service to the community. He also said, “Thank you Mr. Mayor (Geoff Dawe) you brought back the quorum order and respect to this Council and this Council demonstrated that for the last eight years, and I want to say thank you very much.” He also said that with installment of a new Council term, next term is losing 28 years of service around the Council table – “six times four plus the Mayor is 28 years”. Mr. Jones told new term Council to “make it happen.”
At 00:04:53 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=293) Mayor Dawe followed meeting procedure to move quickly through each item on the meeting agenda – no items pulled from Consent Agenda for discussion, no Standing Committee Reports or Consideration of Items Requiring Discussion; and no Motions. One could hear a baby crying in the background, to which Mayor Dawe commented, “that’s not a sound we hear very often in Council Chambers.” There were no comments or questions on the Regional Report.
At 00:06:17 NEW BUSINESS (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=377) started with Cllr Tom Mrakas saying, “I’m going to break tradition and have no new business tonight, so thank you.” No new business from Cllr Wendy Gaertner, Cllr Michael Thompson, Cllr John Abel, Cllr Sandra Humfryes, Cllr Jeff Thom and Cllr Harold Kim; however, there was new business from Cllr Paul Pirri. Mayor Dawe pointed out that Paul Pirri was the sharpest looking guy at the table that night. Cllr Pirri said that he received complaints about the windrow clearing and asked if he could get the staff report.
Obviously outgoing Cllr Paul Pirri was joking; however, the windrow clearing program implementation, a process of cleaning the snow accumulated at the end of a driveway by the snowplough, was considered for discussion during the 2018-2022 Council Term: “Residents could decide future of end-of-driveway clearing program.”
At 00:07:15 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=435) Mayor moved next to the Public Service Announcements. Before moving to final Comments from all members of Council, at 00:10:32 Mayor Dawe called Cllr Abel, Cllr Thom and Cllr Pirri to join him in the centre for “a token of our appreciation for your service.”
At 00:12:18 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=738) comments around the table from members of Council started with elected officials that are continuing on (re-elected Cllr Mrakas (Mayor-Elect), Cllr Kim, Cllr Gaertner, Cllr Humfryes, Cllr Thompson).
Cllr Tom Mrakas (Mayor-Elect) at 00:12:40 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=760) said that “over the four years we’ve done some incredible work together as a team.” Thanked Mayor Dawe for his 8 years commitment and “probably can’t say it better than former Mayor Tim Jones, you brought decorum to the Council when it most needed and I think the community appreciates it and I do as well and I think everyone around this table does so.”
Cllr Harold Kim (Re-Elected) at 00:13:35 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=815) said that the last four years had been the most enlightening and the most professionally enjoyable season of his life, and “I think part of the life adventure that we go through is all about the relationship and the people that you meet along the way,” and “And Cllr Pirri, Cllr Thom, Mayor Dawe and Deputy Mayor Abel, and all of us around here I can say that over the last four years I can call you guys friends and after all the heated debates and so forth you guys are still counted as friends and I hope that we can still keep in touch because – kind of like when athletes and hockey players when they retire they say what they miss the most is the locker room environment and what I will miss with everyone one of you is the locker room environment. But outside of this chamber we will still keep in touch and I look forward to that. So thank you for all your contributions and you know you guys will definitely be missed by me.“
Cllr Gaertner (Re-Elected) at 00:15:11 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=911) agreed that Council had done some good work during the term including committees. She added that she was very disappointed that this Council was not able to put any protections in place for the Stable Neighbourhoods. Cllr Gaertner mentioned that finally this Council made a decision about the Library Square; however, she was concerned that there were no detailed construction estimates, a business plan or operations plan done for the Library Square.
Cllr Thompson (Re-Elected) at 00:16:53 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=1013) said that for him it was a true honour and privilege to serve the residents and to work with Council members this term. Said, “I truly believe that it’s been a very successful term that we have done a wonderful job moving the town forward by adding to the quality of our residents’ lives.” Cllr Thompson mentioned Aurora Family Leisure Complex renovations as one of the accomplishments, looking forward to opening of the Museum, opening of the Joint Operation Centre, Library Square, Niagara College coming to Town to the Armoury, added Sesquicentennial in Aurora, and naming of the Tim Jones Trail.
Despite Cllr Thompson’s comments, unfortunately residents had some serious concerns with the Aurora Leisure Complex renovations – Aurora Family Leisure Complex Renovations, Public Input. When the Joint Operation Centre was reported as over budget Council approved spending an additional $30,000 to have a consultant determine the cause was a “lack of a specifically-tasked project manager” – arguably something that Council and the Town already knew. The Niagara College hefty ~ $5,000,000 deal was done in Council Closed Session meetings.
Cllr Humfryes (Re-Elected) at 00:18:27 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=1107) said she was very proud of this Council and “I’m honoured to have worked with each and every one of you, I have learned from all of you, and I have learned that we can make it through the difficult discussions”. Said that at the table we all can be heated with each other and soon as we leave this table “we are friends, comrades.” On a personal note she said, “I have seen Paul [Pirri] from a young boy, 22, oh sorry, 23, grow up before our eyes and I have learned so much from you Paul. He got married and so many more things to come in the future.” […] “JT [Jeff Thom], not only did he get married, he got two beautiful daughters.” Next she complemented Cllr Abel and Mayor Dawe, and added “I would like to specifically speak about our Mayor Geoff Dawe. Mayor Geoff Dawe came here eight years ago when we were in, as former Mayor Tim Jones mentioned, he came to us when times were quite turbulent and he turned things back to a stable well-oiled machine. This Town functions well, it functions beautifully. We have services that are performing the way they need to perform. We have business matters that have moved forward more than a lot of previous Councils. I will never discredit what previous Council have done, they have all done a great job but we have made some decisions here that were not made before, including Library Square, Joint Operations Centre. These are tough decisions to make, of course the general public may not see it as positively as we did but we did the right things and we will continue to do those right things.” Watch the clip to see more of her praises for Mayor Dawe and his accomplishments – “he loves his Town and it shows”. Her speech was connected to giving Mayor Dawe an appreciation gift.
In the video, Mayor Dawe received gifts and it appears one of the things he was given was a wooden cutting board made by the Town; presumably from one of the many Ash trees cut down due to Ash Borer infestation.
Mayor Dawe responded, “Well thank you, I am having a hot flash too.”
Cllr Pirri (Outgoing) at 00:25:23 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=1523) said “I am reminded of the words of Marx so this is a bit of a warning to the two new Councillors – politics is the art of looking for trouble finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.“ He said that there is some truth to that when dealing with politics in the wrong way, but when done properly then it is the complete opposite. Cllr Pirri said he is grateful to serve with everyone. Said to Cllr Mrakas, “you are the most passionate person I think this Town has ever seen and I think you will be a great Mayor.” To Cllr Gaertner, “we haven’t always seen eye to eye and nor should we, but I truly appreciate that when there is an issue that you truly believe in come hell or high water you will stand for it and I think that’s absolutely amazing.” To Cllr Humfryes, “you and I think very differently. I am the analytical guy, you speak from the heart. […] I have learned so much from you.” To Cllr Kim, “you are guided for all the right reasons and it drives what you do and I think that’s why you did so well in the elections because people know that your heart is and forever will be in the right place.” To Cllr Thompson, “what I was going to say for you was probably the most difficult. I have the utmost respect for who you are as a person and I count you as a friend.” To Mayor Dawe, “you have been an outstanding Mayor over the last eight years. We haven’t seen eye-to-eye on things as well but that’s not what marks us as a Council. I think what we’ve been able to do is always keep pushing forward and we’ve been able to get a lot accomplished and that’s through your leadership and you have done an outstanding job.” To Cllr Thom, “I have known you the longest out of everyone here. You can be so thorough with information and that comes from passion as well. You love the Queen and I think she’s now the fifth most important lady here in your life.” To Cllr Abel, “just like said with everyone around the table we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. You have a sense of what is right and wrong and we can always trust that you will fight for that sense of what is right and wrong. So thank you for that.” Then he switched to Town Staff. To Doug Nadorozny [CAO, Town of Aurora], “you have been an amazing leader to this team, you’ve brought a business sense to this administration, and I think everyone around the table has benefited from your leadership, your advice, we were able to bounce ideas off you,” and he concluded “so my advice moving forward, you make sure you’re always guided by the best of intentions, and that goes for everyone around this table.”
Cllr Thom (Outgoing) at 00:30:43 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=1843) thanked his family first, friends and all those who supported him during the last election and volunteers across the Town who really make Aurora community a better place. Echoed Cllr Thompson, how fast time goes and he could not believe that it had already been four years. Also thanked all residents of Aurora who have to put up “with all the shenanigans at the Council table.” […] Cllr Thom thanked Doug Nadorozny for his dedication to his job and the Town and agreed with Cllr Pirri, that the CAO brought a business sense to the position that was needed. Lastly, he added, “serving the Town this term has been a pretty exceptional experience. I’m proud of our collective accomplishments as a Council that we’ve moved forward together. I have very few regrets and I am very hopeful that the incoming Council can successfully conclude some of those projects that are still outstanding, most notably Library Square, The Armoury and the Heritage Designations of the Yonge Street properties in our historic downtown.” Furthermore, he thanked the Heritage Advisory Committee on which he served for four years with Cllr Gaertner.
Cllr Abel (Outgoing) at 00:35:25 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=2125) started off by thanking all for being here and “I’m humbled when I was first elected and I’m humbled being here, being recognized and first of all I should congratulate those that got re-elected. Cllr Kim you’re now going to be Deputy Mayor – it’s a great accomplishment to be chosen number one and Mayor-Elect, or I should call you Mayor Mrakas because you will be soon, congratulations. I know we’re in good hands, there’s a lot of experience at the table. When I first started to getting involved in politics it was because I was reading Bouquets & Brickbats by By DICK ILLINGWORTH and I would pick up the paper, it was the only reason I read the Auroran news. I would go to that page and I would say ‘oh my goodness I cannot believe what the Council has done now, Tracy let me read this to you. And I and Tracy were exasperated at my exasperation and she said ‘why don’t you do something about it’. So it took me a while to get the nerve. I thought about it in 2006, but then in 2010 I decided I would put my candidacy to see forward and I came home and I said Tracy you won’t believe what I did today. She said ‘what?’ And I said, ‘I’ve signed up to be a candidate. And she said, ‘why on earth would you do that?’ So you don’t realize until you’re involved in this and we all know that what it entailed and you need the support first of all of your family especially your spouse because what goes on after when you’re elected is incredible and they’re the strength and the reason that you can come back and be cordial and have someone to sound so I think I’m so glad you mentioned your spouses. I know we all do appreciate; I’ve heard it several times, our spouses made amazing contribution to our community. I think the greatest thing I have in retrospect is looking around here. I didn’t know one person in this Council Chamber, but now I realize how important it is to have people that are involved in the community, volunteers, our leaders do great things. That’s what makes any community great but specifically Aurora. So for me that’s the most enriching part. I thought that when I volunteer in hockey and baseball that I was getting involved. But it is really amazing when you’re involved here with people that make decisions. […] I think the greatest moment was when I walked into this Town Hall and realized that I will be working with staff here and all the departments, all people that work here. So knowing everyone that I know in the community and the staff and my colleagues, it’s been just an amazing journey. I never imagined in my life that I will be running for candidacy for Mayor and never considered that. In fact all my old friends can’t believe it either. So it is great when you have an opportunity – if you believe that you can make a difference, and that’s what I believed, then do it.
Mayor Dawe (Outgoing) at 00:39:17 (https://youtu.be/eLTHgzWh-3Q?t=2357) started with expressing that his speech is written to ensure to say what he wanted to say. “My colleagues have already spoken about a number of our successes, some over the last four years and some of the last eight years. One that comes to mind right away is pivotal to how we’re developing our town is the Library Square and the Aurora Armoury, because I think it is a great indicator of the faith that we have in building up the core of our Town. As I think about this, there are two instances about this earlier that I believe are the essence of how Council should operate – obviously my opinion on that one. The first one was the Cultural Service Agreement. The reason I bring that one up is that there were two Councillors that were very passionate about an issue they wanted to see corrected and we can certainly appreciate their point of view on that. And as a Council we worked together, we worked to get past the doomsday scenarios that were presented to us in that instance and by focusing on the principle of the greater good we come up with an agreement that enhanced and strengthened what has now become an incredibly successful attraction venue for events in our Town – the Aurora Cultural Center. And again I believe that was by focusing on the greater good and saying what is for the benefit of our Town. The second one which is not very sexy is the Financial Advisory Committee. The Financial Advisory Committee, a smaller group of elected officials and small group of staff focusing on developing principles that let us lay out a process for handling our budget, which took so much of the drama away from the budget process of those of you who are on Council, and this was Cllr Thompson’s initiative. His main mission in life was to get a financial advisory committee going. You know, the staff would start up here and we would start down there and somewhere in the middle we would meet, and it was quite a bruising process. So by setting criteria upfront we took that drama out, which gave us the time to focus on the critical issues into strategic direction of our Town which is really what we’re here to do.”[ …] “I would like to speak about my experiences being an elected official. When I started in 2010 I had about a 40 year career in the private sector and it is pretty safe to say it, I came to public service to the municipal government with some preconceptions about what municipal government was and I very quickly learned that there were misconceptions. I jumped into the deep end of an incredibly substantial body which resulted in, probably the most intense learning experience that I have ever had and I’m sure that my colleagues feel the same way. And at times the most frustrating experience that I ever had, but definitely the most rewarding experience that I have had. Experience that was educational and humbling just can’t be part of this body without the incredible educational experience that you get here. I have learned so many things that I will probably never use again in my life. It is just absolutely amazing the number of elements that go together to make up a municipal government. The humbling part comes from that education if you learn as you learn, you learn about your colleagues, you learn about your staff and you learn how committed and competent they truly are and how they wish to do a good job and how we need to recognize that and encourage them to do that good job and to come back to us when we are being a little crazy and saying no you can’t do this for any number of good reasons.” Mayor Dawe concluded by thanking everyone one with a special shout out to Mr. Ramuno, who is leaving the Town of Aurora position at the end of the year (2018) and will be working at the municipality of East Gwillimbury. Also special thanks to his and Doug Nadorozny’s assistants, “well known fact but Betty and Kelly actually run the Town and Doug and I are simply arm candy for Betty and Kelly.” He concluded by thanking his wife and family – “you cannot do this job without your family’s support, you’d be crazy to try.”
Anna Lozyk Romeo