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Candidate Tilander calls for culture change at City Hall

Changing the culture at City Hall begins with a full debate on the Valin Report. Mr. Justice Valin must be heard. His proposals discussed. New policies adopted.
randall tilander
Randall Tilander is running for council.

North Bay City Council candidate Randall Tilander has added his voice to the chorus calling for a change of culture and attitude at City Hall.

"The Valin Report presents an unattractive view of North Bay's city government," he says. "Friends apparently do favours for friends. No declaration of a conflict. Closed-door meetings. Opaque corporate structure. No debate on ethics. North Bay has been voted the most secretive city government in Canada. This has to change.

"I quote Jeff Turl’s very concise statement of the ethics problem: 'A scandal broke when the report by Valin revealed that Mayor Al McDonald voted, in an Invest North Bay closed meeting and against the Board's own conflict of interest guidelines, to award a $1.2M marketing contract to his friend and campaign manager Bill Ferguson of TWG Communications.' Jeff Turl, a reporter for BayToday, identified three problems. First, the mayor seemed to be doing a favour for a friend. Second, the mayor did not declare a conflict of interest and recuse himself. Third, this favour to his friend was apparently performed as a closed meeting of a corporation owned by the city and whose operating funds came entirely from the city.

"The City Solicitor then interfered with City Council deliberations. He wrote an unsolicited 11-page report stating that Valin’s advice (regarding a code of conduct bylaw) was not needed. Whether he intended it or not, the unsolicited opinion on the Code of Conduct bylaw inspired an effort to terminate debate on council ethics.  

"When City Council received the unsolicited report from the City Solicitor, five councilors on the current City Council voted to rescind the invitation given to Mr. George Valin. These councilors were Mac Bain, Bill and Tanya Vrebosch, Dave Mendicino, and Johanne Brousseau. Almost half of the current City Council voted to prevent the discussion of a new Code of Conduct bylaw.  Their vote provokes questions. It’s time for a change."

​See: Mayoralty candidates all agree. Invite Valin no strings attached

Other candidates, as well as mayoralty hopefuls Peter Chirico, Johanne Brousseau and Leslie McVeety have all told BayToday they will support it, if a motion is brought before Council inviting Valin to speak, without placing restrictions on what he is allowed to say. 

"Changing the culture at City Hall begins with a full debate on the Valin Report," explains Tilander. "Mr. Justice Valin must be heard. His proposals discussed. New policies adopted. City Councillors must be reminded that we work for the citizens of North Bay."

Tilander has also weighed in on the arena debate.

"Anyone with kids knows that North Bay needs rinks. West Ferris Arena is in bad shape. Pete Palangio Arena is near the end of its useful life. North Bay needs new ice rinks but not with this price tag.

"The original proposal was for a simple double rink design for a $32 million total cost. North Bay was to pay 1/3rd. That was supposed to be about $10m. Then the province and the federal government dropped out. The City of North Bay was left to bear the entire cost itself. North Bay's cost went from $10m to $32m. The city then moved the double rink to Omischl. The cost went up to $52m due to the unsuitability of the location. In June 2022, the federal government agreed to contribute $25.88m for a 'green' facility. 

"The project has gone back to the architects for a new estimated cost. The new cost to the city is likely to be well above $52m. North Bay taxpayers need a more frugal approach," he says. "The price tag for Omischl has already increased by almost 58% and is still rising. City Council has gone back to the architects to get new pricing on the project including the changes required for federal funding. The architect’s report is expected in December 2022 and will likely quote a sharply higher estimate, perhaps exceeding $70 million. The total cost is likely to be 2X the original estimate. The city’s share of the project is likely to be 5X higher than the original estimate."

On the homeless issue, Tilander maintains the present council has not been able to move forward because it does not have a plan. 

​"My top priority would be making a real, workable plan for dealing with homelessness and affordable housing. Such a plan would allow the city to take substantive steps to ease the homelessness crisis. If elected, I would get a proper plan made. This plan would begin with a Needs Analysis identifying what is needed, how many units, and how much money. The Needs Analysis would lead to a new 10-year plan with mileposts and quantitative objectives."

Tilander says the reason for running is frustration and a hope for change.  

"In early April, while I was walking the dog, I saw water coming up from the edge of my neighbour’s lawn. The water was coming up through the sand and running down the gutters and into the storm sewer. As a taxpayer, I was concerned that my tax dollars were being wasted. There was enough water to fill a swimming pool coming up through the sand and down into the storm sewer. I had a strong suspicion that we had a broken water main. Like a good citizen, I sent an email to the mayor. He told me that nothing was broken and that this was just a routine maintenance procedure. I then talked to my neighbour who had reported the break to the city water department. The official at the water department apparently told him not to worry because if it was a break, the break occurred before his water meter and so, he wasn’t being charged for the wasted treated water. It took the two of us a full month of persistent effort to get the city to investigate the possibility that there might be a problem. The pipe was fixed after six weeks. The roadwork necessary to complete the job took another four months. As a taxpayer, I was and am concerned at this apparent indifference to the wastage of my city tax dollars. I am running so that we the taxpayers can finally see some value for money. Here are my priorities: "

See Tilander's website