Sudbury council to tackle unsettled disputes in 2014
The new year could sound a lot like the old one in Sudbury city council chambers, as several unresolved issues will be on council’s agenda in 2014.
CBC News reporter Erik White, reflects on what council has in store in the coming year, based on what some have said in 2013. Click here or to the left to hear observations during a CBC Sudbury Morning North radio program interview.
Read on for a few highlights:
More city cuts on the horizon
The size of the city's workforce keeps coming up as a concern, but little has been done to cut down the payroll.
City councillor Jacques Barbeau has said 2,000 workers is the right number, but some departments are overstaffed.
"Quite frankly, there's people that are twiddling their thumbs,” he remarked previously. “And we can't have that."
A staffing review is expected sometime in 2014, as is a consultant's report on how many buildings Greater Sudbury needs.
"I don't think there's any city I know that has 600 buildings,” Mayor Marianne Matichuk said ealier in 2013.
She sees this as a place to save precious taxdollars, but it could lead to unpopular decisions right before the municipal election in the fall.
Deciding on the fate of the Sudbury arena
Replacing the aging Sudbury Arena is also in that category. Councillor Fabio Belli pushed to make a decision in 2013, but others worried about rushing a multi-million-dollar project.
"Maybe, [for] some of us, that's what we want. We don't want to make a decision,” he speculated at the time. “Let the next council make that decision. And there's a good possibility maybe none of us will be on that next council."
But this council still might make that decision.
City staff members said a report outlining options for a new arena should get to city council before Sudburians go to the polls in October.
Council vs. Mayor
Another story to watch is whether the election at the end of the October puts further strain on relations between the mayor and councillors.
The battles — some private and some public — between Mayor Marianne Matichuk and city councillors included a dust-up in September, when councillor Andre Rivest asked that Matichuk apologize for alleging councillors met secretly, something that has never been proven.
Matichuk: "You are personally attacking me?”
Rivest: “No I am not.”
Matichuk: “And I am not going to answer that ... Enough! <gavel bang> That is enough."
In 2013, city councillors started talking openly about how the divisions are keeping Greater Sudbury from moving forward.
It will be interesting to see if that changes in the months leading up to the election, when candidates usually brag about what they achieved in the last four years.
Almost 11 months away, the spectre of the election is already showing up in council debates, something highlighted by Councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann during budget talks earlier in December,
"[This] is frankly nothing more than showmanship. And let's not forget there's a re-election next year,” she said.
Click to the left for more audio and background stories on this feature.