Warfield village council discovered a sure fire method to encourage the citizens of their community to get involved in civic politics; take away their library cards.
Over 70 people gathered at the Village of Warfield council chambers Monday evening to voice their objections to council’s decision to opt out of the Trail Resident Program (TRP), which leaves village residents handing over cash to gain access to the City of Trail’s library and recreational facilities.
“I took my daughter to the library the other day for a learning and play day and was told I would have to pay cash and wait for a full or partial reimbursement from the village,” said Warfield resident Lisa Milne. “I would have had to pay $225 that day. I ended up walking away from a morning at the library.”
Six recognized delegates, including Milne, from the community had the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the decision before the village council and a standing room only crowd of just over 70 neighbours who shared their outrage.
“This should be about communities sharing their resources, culture, and infrastructure. Opting out is a step backwards,” said Betty Anne Marino. “This is about interdependence, we gain when our neighbours gain.”
Marino went on to ask council to revisit their decision and hold a public meeting where the citizens of Warfield would have the opportunity to discuss the ramifications of making such a decision, hold a referendum on the decision in the coming civic election, if necessary, and even raised the spectre of creating a regional municipality.
Other delegates discussed the effect of having to pay fees up-front would have on low income residents, the negative effects on literacy development, and the additional costs to the village coffers of administrative and mailing costs associated with reimbursements.
Throughout the presentations, Mayor Bert Crockett and council members had little to say other than reassuring the residents that their concerns were heard and that a response from council would be forthcoming in the mail.
After the delegate’s submissions, council quickly went through their agenda and declared the remainder of the meeting “in-camera,” asking the villagers to clear the chambers.
Some members of the crowd objected to the lack of a question and answer period during the council meeting to which Crockett responded that it wasn’t required as part of their regular meetings. However, once the chamber had cleared to some degree, Crockett relented and allowed a few questions from the remaining residents.
General concern was expressed about why council wouldn’t read any of the village resident’s correspondence during the meeting, why the agenda for the meeting wasn’t available on the village’s website, and when anyone could expect a response to their questions and presentations.
“We have all read the letters, we just referred them as a block to committee for discussion,” Crockett said. “It’s just the way we do business, it’s procedural. If residents want copies of the agenda, they can phone or email the village office and we’ll mail them to you.”
After a number of questions along a similar vein, the remainder of the meeting was declared in-camera and the crowd cleared the chambers.
“The response was unsatisfactory,” delegate, Mark Stephens said afterwards. “I understand they have a hard job but I think they had their backs up going into this.