By Gillian Slade on September 13, 2017.
Running for mayor to put the Medicine Hat advantage back into the equation and see more issues discussed in open public debate, is former alderman John Hamill.
The city has lost sight of the “public service” side of the job of council, said Hamill, who believes the current format to allows the public a voice is too intimidating.
Writing a letter to the city can be very difficult for some, said Hamill. Allowing them then an opportunity to speak to council in a public format is an intimidating process most people are reluctant to engage in.
Hamill believes every letter or email sent to a councillor needs to be responded to with more than an acknowledgment of receipt.
“You represent the city, look into it and get an answer and respond,” said Hamill, who believes councillors need to be spending more than 15 or 20 hours a week on council business researching issues and asking questions.
He believes too many decisions are being made behind closed doors with perhaps not enough questions asked.
“There has got to be open debate,” said Hamill.
The Medicine Hat utility advantage is gone, said Hamill. He says selecting an average utility price is not a Medicine Hat advantage, believing the city should be the lowest and not the average of the lowest of three other cities.
The utility fee is also only one part of the equation on a utility bill. Administrative fees, which the consumer has no control over, have slowly increased over time and council needs to be looking at this, said Hamill.
Recent changes to public transit is something Hamill has received feedback on from the public and believes it is an issue where not enough questions were asked.
When the changes were presented to council they should have climbed on the bus and talked directly to transit passengers rather than believing that a financially fit survey was representative of the needs of bus passengers, said Hamill.
“Who is running the city,” he asked. “I think the tail is wagging the dog.”
He was first elected alderman in the early 1990s. He was unsuccessful in the 2013 municipal election in his bid to be returned to council.
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