Archer promises zero-tolerance for disrupted meetings

Elser Lee Faith Archer outside her office in Barry’s Bay

If elected mayor, Elser Lee Faith Archer says she will call upon her governmental and council experience to provide leadership aimed at improving efficiency and harmony at the council table. She says the solution begins with strict compliance with Roberts Rules of Order.

If I’m mayor and someone on council is disruptive I’m going to ask them to leave. If I was working in a corporation, it wouldn’t be tolerated. That’s where I’m at. So let’s cut it off at the pass. It stops people from continuing in that vein.

Archer was interviewed by The Current in her office at Access Work Services where she is an Employment Consultant. Unsurprisingly, given her background as a mediator, Archer is focused on bringing a collaborative approach to municipal governance. As a recent example she pointed to Communities in Bloom as being a “microcosm of collaboration.” This is because she believes it was the epitome of teamwork as it involved unpaid volunteers, municipal staff, political staff, the business community and other organizations like the Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society.

The challenges the community faces because of the high percentage of senior residents are of vital concern to her. Archer feels this problem would benefit from a similar approach. Some residents have to leave because they cannot physically manage their lives and because there is a lack of suitable affordable accommodation. She is proud of her role in bringing the Personal Support Worker training program to the Valley, despite opposition.

Archer also has some firm views on economic development. She would like to see a staff member appointed with primary responsibility, and the expertise to go with it, for economic development in the community.

… Because the expertise that you’re looking for may not lie with someone who’s got great experience doing rec programs.” She goes on, “… then what you’re going to have is someone who has experience, someone who has been building that network at different government levels, and someone who can apply their knowledge and experience to the benefit of the municipality.

She is also proud of her contribution to the perennial problem of asset management. She says what the municipality needs is a financial plan. She referred to her role in drafting an MV resolution asking the province to provide its own staff and training for municipal staff to compile asset management programs. She had noticed that every municipality had a different customized asset management plan. Archer said,

Everyone that lives anywhere has some kind of financial plan. … A financial plan is not cheap … but something I saw as important was that we need them [the province] to compensate us for doing this work.

She says she got a “huge amount of support for her resolution” from various municipalities. The province is going to cover those costs and she says as mayor there is even more opportunity for her to make progress with this.

That’s the only way we’re going to get the money we need.

Archer acknowledged that compliance with obligations of Accountability and Transparency is fundamental to good municipal governance. She pointed to the forthcoming amendments to the Municipal Act in relation to Codes of Conduct and the role of the Integrity Commissioner as being important. She was asked whether she thought it odd that during the entirety of this Council’s term, so far as records show, only one declaration of pecuniary interest by a councillor had been recorded. She refused to be drawn on whether she believes that there should have been more. Instead, she pointed out that when she worked in both Toronto and provincial governments, she always attended training sessions so that she would “understand intimately” where there is a conflict of interest.

Does she agree that there is “inter-village friction” as stated in the municipality’s strategic plan, The Path Forward? Archer declined to answer the question directly, instead saying that it was “the community itself, that identified that inter-village friction.”  She added,

Each community is a gem for different reasons…. What is the point of working against each other? It’s a time waster. Because what we do now is get entrenched on different sides, instead of seeing the forest through the trees. To me it just is a waste of time when you are so much richer collectively.

Finally, Archer addressed the topic of the role of Council. She says that she does not believe in micromanagement. The key is to have experienced staff and a strong CAO and let them get on with it.

I don’t believe that we need to nitpick about a pint of milk in an office or if we don’t understand that you need a special grade of paint for a heritage structure.

She confessed to having become quite disillusioned earlier this year and even thought about resigning. However, Archer says she is not a “quitter” and was able to pass through this phase and in fact become motivated to seek the mayoral position because she believes that it has helped her to become better-equipped to handle that job.

3 Comments

  1. Elser Lee Faith Archer

    Madawaska Valley has 3 unique communities withing one beautiful municipality. Each ‘pocket’ community had a lively Community Hub. Wilno has the Wilno Heritage Society, the Recreation Committee and some say the Wilno Tavern. Combermere has had an active Recreation Committee for several Years, the Friendship Club and the Wonderful Farmer’s Market along with a variety of offerings from Madonna House and friendly places to stop and congregate on the main-drag. Barry’s Bay still has the busy Opeongo Senior’s Centre, the Friday Farmers Market, the BIA (driving key events) and the Library —- It used to have a vibrant Railway station, Tennis Club and a formerly active Recreation Committee along several show stoppers like Timberfest. Many miss these formerly vibrant community hubs. It was great to re-start Tennis and have the Artisan Festival return and, I look forward to Taste of the Valley but some say the vibrancy has diminished where the last 4 activities are concerned. I look forward to sustaining what’s great about each community while creating a place where arts and culture will always thrive in all 3 communities. Preserving heritage, arts and culture promotes the health and well-being of all residents while promoting tourism and economic development. Doing this in a way that satisfies budget priorities and reflects our Strategic Plan – “The Path Forward” is important. Families that live here and those families we want to attract like entrepreneurs and medical professionals also want to preserve heritage, arts, culture and sport in our communities.

    The Government of Ontario says a “Community Hub” provides:
    -a central access point for a range of needed health and social services, along with cultural, recreational, and green spaces to nourish community life.
    – it can be a school, a neighbourhood centre, an early learning centre, a library, an elderly persons centre, a community health centre, an old government building, a place of worship or another public space.
    -whether virtual or located in a physical building, whether located …..rural community, each hub is as unique
    …. serving local needs, services and resources.
    When people think of community hubs, they think of places where people come
    together to get services, meet one another and plan together. We’ve heard that
    community hubs are gathering places that help communities live, build and grow
    together. No community hub is like another, as each brings together a variety of
    different services, programs and/or social and cultural activities to reflect local
    community needs. It is this diversity of activity that allows community hubs to play
    a critical role in building economic and social cohesion in the community.

  2. Pat Scott

    This all sounds like the kind of alignment that could bring our municipality back to where we were and on to a new level. I am pleased to hear that you have no concerns with enforcing Roberts Rules! Strong leadership is what we need. Having survived an incredibly bad 4 years at the table brings an understanding of where we need to be and what is urgently lacking. I hope that within the vision is one that includes the arts, tourism and the return of vibrancy to the Railway station. Best of luck to Elser Lee!

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