City council passes $3,000 conflict resolution session

(Herald file photo)

City council will be spending $3,000 on a conflict resolution session.

The motion, brought forward by Mayor Greg Dionne, was passed during Monday’s meeting after a 20-minute discussion by a narrow 5-4 margin.

Council will be spending $3,000 from the Mayor’s and Councillors’ Budget. The course will be delivered by Randy Arnott.

Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody voted in favour of the conflict resolution session. He said it’s a mystery why council doesn’t get along.

“I like everybody here. I think you’re all great people, but why are we so dysfunctional? What’s wrong? Why don’t we trust one another? We barely say hello at times,” he said.

After the meeting, Dionne said he doesn’t agree that council is dysfunctional.

“We’ve brought in some very successful programs and successful bylaws, so we’re not dysfunctional in the way that we’re not moving ahead.”

He emphasized that the session is not just for resolving conflicts within council.

“We deal with conflict with residents, we deal with conflict with organizations,” he said in the meeting.

“I’ve sat in on one of these courses and it’s really helped me dealing with people that phone the residence phone. It teaches you to be calm when they’re yelling and swearing at you.”

Dionne explained the course taught him to follow the 24-hour rule.

He now tells callers he hears their concerns and will phone back. When he does, they’re much more calm.

“To me it’s an ongoing education program,” he said.

Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha said he was torn on the motion during discussion, but ended up opposing it.

“My question on this is why now when a lot of the conflicts, some of them involve me, may have been solved with a simple cup of coffee?” he asked.

Botha questioned whether taxpayers should be funding a conflict resolution session for councillors. Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller, who also opposed, was stern that it’s not a proper use of taxpayers’ money.

Dionne said the lawsuit between him and Botha has nothing to do with the conflict resolution session.

Dionne sued Botha for $50,000, saying two code of ethics complaints Botha made against him were malicious and designed to embarrass him.

Botha has denied the allegations.