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Feeling left out, councillors ask to be part of Stars and Thunder plans

Members of the public may or may not also be involved

Aiming to diversify involvement in planning for the second edition of the Stars and Thunder festival, city council has directed city CAO Dave Landers to prepare some terms of reference for a festival advisory committee. 

It was an idea brought forward by Councillor Rick Dubeau, who offered his services as a potential committee member.

"Quite simply, this is a significant budget item. More significant than most of our budget items. I'm looking at it, its $5.75 million dollars, and last year, correct me if I'm wrong, it was only the Mayor who was on the committee," he said.

Despite having several disagreements with Black over the last year or so regarding the festival, he gave kudos to Black for his effort in preparations for the inaugural city-run festival.

"Quite simply, we should have more members of council on the committee going forward. I'd like to put my name forward. It's been passed at council. It's a done deal. I'm not working against it. I just want to help make it as successful as possible," said Dubeau.

Councillor Noella Rinaldo expressed a sentiment of being left out of the loop.

"In the day-to-day, council was not really informed, except for when the time came for the dollars. I think sometimes there's work that gets done beforehand that perhaps council could have some say," she said.

"I think there's a bit of a communication lack there. Only because it was run by city employees, and they don't speak back to council unless we request. But its hard to request when you don't know what you're requesting."

Councillor Pat Bamford said there was a lot of community pride during the festival, and wanted to make sure that the public's voice and suggestions would be included as well. 

"I've heard some great ideas. Some that are too expensive, but some that would work. Just little nitty-gritty things that make the festival, the experience, more fun. To me, I could see maybe that advisory committee having a few citizens, a few councillors, but open to ideas from the community," he said.

Bamford also said that having too many members of council on the committee could end up resembling a council meeting, which could lead to issues. 

"I would like the CAO to come up with some ideas, and then we could probably discuss them later."

Councillor Mike Doody disagreed about limiting numbers and suggested that all of council should be a part of that committee.

"We're the people who were elected by the people, and we should be the link to them, and if there are ideas, they should flow through us to the Mayor, to the people that are going to be working together to actually put it together," he said.

S Black Sept 6 17Mayor Steve Black said he was on board with increased transparency surrounding the Stars and Thunder festival and would respect the wishes of council. Andrew Autio for TimminsToday

Councillor Andrew Marks wanted to know exactly how the committee would be structured and how it would function before making any decisions.

"I completely agree with Councillor Dubeau's premise of accountability and transparency for this budgeted amount, and I believe that resides with all eight of us plus yourself (gesturing to Black)."

He said he wanted to avoid adding another level of bureaucracy to an already complex project, and didn't seem on board with only a few councillors being involved.

"What concerns me about that, is then the number of councillors potentially chosen to be on it, might have other information that then when I come to a meeting every two weeks, I don't have if I'm not on the committee," he said.

Councillor Noella Rinaldo disagreed with one of Dubeau's comments about the advisory committee not necessarily getting involved with logistics.

"That's exactly what I think this committee needs. The big picture is being taken care of by departments and by the CAO, and I'm very comfortable with that. Financially, it comes back to council, very comfortable with that. It is the logistics, and the best practices. That is 'best practice'. It is the little, little details. That's where you save money, that's where you make money, that's where the experience becomes better. It is the logistics, and that's where I find we are lacking, is the logistics."

She emphasized that there were likely many concert goers who bit their tongues about issues experienced during the 8-day festival simply to keep it positive.

"People were very forgiving. It was the first time. I don't know if they'll be as forgiving the second time, in certain things. Something as simple as waiting in line for porta-potties. I think they'll be a little more critical, because they're expecting us to raise the bar," said Rinaldo.

Landers will be bringing back some terms of reference for how the advisory committee could be structured. There were no comments on how 'public' members of the committee would be chosen.