BCA future in question

Albert Kramberger
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The future of the Beaconsfield Citizens Association, whose most recent president is now on city council, is the main discussion point for the civic watchdog group as it heads into its first-post election meeting, according to its interim president. “The first item to consider on the agenda is whether the BCA should continue,” stated Larry McKinnon when contacted by The Chronicle. “We have been constantly under attack by some members of the previous administration and citizens that write letters to the editor. We are a volunteer organization and we do not need this. Perhaps it is time for some other people to take over. We will survey those residents on our members and mailing list giving them certain options as to where they see the direction it should take or even the need for the BCA.”

McKinnon took over as BCA interim leader after Karin Essen announced her bid for council. Now that she won her seat in District 2, ousting Karen Messier, the BCA is looking for a new leader as McKinnon confirmed he may be willing to stay on as an executive member but not as the association’s leader. Greg Stienstra and Gilles Perron were two other BCA executive members who ran in the Nov. 1 vote, though both lost.

Though interest has waned since huge property tax hikes sparked residents into action after the de-merger from the Montreal mega-city, there is still a need for a volunteer watchdog group to encourage civic participation, said BCA secretary Charles Bourgeois. “There is a need to monitor what’s going at city hall,” he said. “There are not many hot issues so there is less interest and we lost three out of seven executive members who resigned to run (Nov. 1). We (the BCA) will discuss our next step and go from there.”

With 400 members, Bourgeois suggested the BCA has enough people to handle a changing of the guard on the executive.

Some supporters of former mayor Bob Benedetti openly questioned whether the BCA was neutral as three executive members took a run at council and were part of an unofficial slate backing David Pollock, who successfully ran for mayor after being a city councillor for one term. As BCA leader, Essen was a harsh critic of Benedetti and announced her unequivocal support for Pollock during the election campaign.

The fact three BCA members ran in the election is an indication the group is doing a fine job of encouraging civic participation, Stienstra said Monday, adding he hasn’t decided what future role he may play in the BCA but plans to attend the next meeting. “A lot of criticism for the things (the BCA was) doing was not entirely fair,” he said. “(The BCA) is not there to please everyone.”

Stienstra said the BCA needs to stick around. “There are many community roles they can play, not strictly the role of observing the mayor and council,” he said. “They can hold information sessions and assist other community groups and even meet with groups in neighbouring cities.”

Many voters have high expectations of the new council, Stienstra said. “Some expect change right away but there is a lot for them to do. The BCA has a role. They can propose projects and solutions.”

Meanwhile, the newly sworn in Beaconsfield city council will hold its first official public meeting presided by Pollock next Monday. Aside from Essen, other new councillors on board include Michael Montagano in District 1, Brian Ross in District 4 and Rhonda Massad in District 6. They join Wade Staddon and Roy Baird who were re-elected.

Montagano, 44, was the sole councillor elected who was not part of an unofficial mayoral slate, though he was no fan of Benedetti. “I plan to look at the issues and work in the best interest for people in my area,” Montagano said. “I was disappointed the way Beaconsfield was managed the past few years.”

The BCA had been scheduled to meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Beaconsfield Recreation Centre, 1974 City Lane.

The Nov. 18 BCA meeting location has now moved from the Rec Centre to the nearby Herb Linder annex (bowling green) next to the City Hall, McKinnon said Wednesday.

All citizens are welcome to attend.

Organizations: Beaconsfield Citizens Association, Beaconsfield city council, Beaconsfield Recreation Centre Rec Centre

Geographic location: Montreal

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  • Sofia Weiss
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    Is the BCA still active?