ARICHAT: The new warden of Richmond County wants to institute new rules governing public meetings of council.
Immediately after being named warden following a swearing-in ceremony at the Richmond Municipal Building in Arichat, district 3 councillor Brian Marchand sought councillors’ approval to make adjustments to the public question period that normally wraps up regular monthly council meetings.
The new warden wants to allow residents to ask questions unrelated to the official council agenda. But he also cautioned that any members of the public who launch “accusations” or “innuendos” at individual councillors or staff will be asked to change their tone and, if necessary, to leave the council chambers.
“I don’t think any councillors at all should be harassed by people, and I don’t think any statements should be made without any facts,” Marchand said.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting on November 7, the Louisdale resident said he hoped to address what some have referred to as “a toxic environment” at council meetings over the past year, but added that residents have every right to question council on issues that do not specifically fall on a council meeting’s official agenda.
“For the last year, I found the agendas very much controlled, so it was hard to raise issues that weren’t on the agenda, and the question periods were controlled, because anyone that went off the agenda was quickly told [to stop],” Marchand insisted.
“We might not have all the answers [to residents’ questions], but we’ll try to find them and get it to them in some good time.”
Marchand also suggested that he is “in no rush” to find a replacement for Warren Olsen, who resigned as Richmond’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at the end of October. The director of finance and deputy clerk, Jason Martell, has served as the top non-elected Richmond official following Olsen’s departure.
“I think we have a competent guy in there now, and we need to get our finances straight and see where we go from here,” the new warden declared.
“So once we continue doing that, then we might [seek a new CAO]. I’ll probably be discussing that with [council] later on, but it’s on hold for now.”
For more on the first meeting of the new Richmond Municipal Council, see the November 16 edition of The Reporter.