While the weather this year has been unusually temperate, Midland Council has nonetheless endured a rather stormy January culminating in the recent departure of the Town’s CAO (Chief Administrative Officer).
While the buck clearly stops with Council, the CAO plays a critical role in both decision-making and the execution of Council’s stated strategic plan to maximize Midland’s potential.
The ability for the Town’s most senior staff member to make tough, objective decisions and demonstrate unwavering leadership are some of the more challenging aspects of a role that is sometimes seen as simply providing Council with rich and comprehensive information.
As you may know, MidlandCommunity.ca has been critical of some recent staff discussions and recommendations, including the 3-year non-unionized staff management agreement which we believe is rich and begs for much needed change, the perplexing withdrawal from the Midland Fire arbitration process and the resulting generous agreement, a staff that is seemingly paralyzed when faced with the task of attacking the fiscal budget to reduce spending and taxes, and the ambitious meeting schedule of current IBEW labour negotiations which could only be described as bizarre; perhaps all contributed to a change at the top.
We express our hope and encouragement that Council will seize this opportunity to steer the ship away from the jagged shoreline and find a highly-capable individual with the ability, enthusiasm and courage to make and implement the tough decisions that will help improve the quality of life for all Midlanders.
There was of course the monthly meeting of Council which saw three deputations.
Fred Hacker appeared on behalf of Culture Midland advising Council that the group is now intending to model itself along the lines of the EDCNS and reach out to Tiny, Tay and Penetanguishene, seeking another “power of four” partnership in the promotion and development of local culture. Mr. Hacker also sought a financial commitment and stressed the need to invest more into the arts. He often benchmarked Stratford and their success on the world stage.
The Askennonia Centre presented a status report outlining a smorgasbord of activity designed to engage and support our local aging population and highlighted the organization’s impressive growth in membership. They emphasized to Council that ongoing funding and/or in-kind support at the municipal level is critical to receiving the provincial funding on which they rely heavily.
The Huronia Museum appeared and presented a proposal looking to enter into discussions with the Town about converting a waiting shed at the Town dock into an exhibit structure. There were more questions than answers given that this idea was clearly still at the conceptual stage.
Councillor Stewart Strathearn gave Council a verbal update regarding the recent hiring of a new head librarian and CEO at the Midland Public Library and the efforts underway to seek accreditation from the Ontario Library Board. Also detailed was the library board’s work in drafting a new strategic plan, steps taken to improve its collection of resources, and review of ways to make the library more accessible to the community through extended hours of operation and new innovative programs.
Finally that evening Councillor Cody Oschefski issued something of a plea for help. Cody has been working hard to form a local youth committee, but has recognized that it’s a daunting task. Recent events at Town Hall preclude staff from dedicating any resources to assist in establishing this worthy endeavour and we are sure that he would welcome any help that the private sector can offer. We encourage all Midland Community followers to contact Mr. Oschefski if they feel that they can help him in his cause.
As we look back on the month and reflect, it is clear that Council has too many balls in the air and functional departments are lacking clear and concise direction on “what matters and when”.
This Monday, Council will be convening a special meeting to review its strategic plan and re-establish its key priorities. They will likely need to come to terms with finalizing a plan to hire a new CAO and answer the question, how do we manage the business of the town in the interim?
While we’ll save our assessment on the GBGH situation for another day, it is clear that the community is passionate about the potential loss of local healthcare delivery services and are determined to put pressure on the powers that be to respond to and respect the needs of their customers.
In this respect, the challenge about the future of the hospital mirrors many of the same issues faced at the municipal level and speaks to a change of culture to one of efficiency and a focus on serving the public instead of the ‘cultural concerns’ that were highlighted in the GBGH operational review.
If our local organizations are to achieve success and sustainability, there needs to be a continuous review of leadership and talent at every level because everyone owns a piece of culture.
We’ll leave you with a quote from Business Week, a decade or so ago:
“A Corporation’s culture can be its greatest strength when it is consistent with its strategies. But a culture that prevents a company/organization from meeting competitive threats, or from adapting to changing economic or social environments, can lead to the Company’s stagnation and ultimate demise.”
Alignment in Strategy, Structure and Culture is imperative now more than ever for any chance of success in today’s environment of fiscal constraint and rapid change.
Until next time……