July 5, 2017
In the human experience there are beginnings and there are endings. Most of us have at least a vague idea of the date of our beginnings. Happily, few of us have any accurate sense of the time of our endings. That said, when time has etched deep the lines in our faces and gray supplants the colors of youth, realism demands that we number our days and take the prudent measures that will spare our heirs the pain of trying to divide the spoils. And life goes on.
By the time you read this column the District of Chetwynd will have experienced the ending of an era. Doug Fleming has been CAO of Chetwynd for the last seven years and eight months. That means that a child born the day he arrived for work is now demonstrating a very decided will of her own, is likely riding a bicycle, going to school, and proudly possessing her own communication device. So very much happens while the rest of us merely grow older!
I am interested in the things that have happened in Chetwynd during the 92 months of Doug’s leadership that have made and, will continue to make the growing experience of that child more human, more productive, more sensitive to the realities of the world around her.
Doug certainly has been a major influence in the decisions of Mayor and Council as we struggled with the issues of life in this little part of our world. In trying to recall the events and accomplishments of the era, I struggle to remember. Reaching back in memory into the tenure of the former Mayor when I, as a member of Council helped to point us in the direction in which we are still travelling (more or less), I realize that even the best-laid plans of fallible humanity frequently need revision as the relentless progression of time points out the flaws in our decisions or changes the context of our activities.
Nevertheless, some good things have happened. Under the direction of the Mayor and Council that hired Doug Fleming, a fund was established that culminated in the new Chetwynd District Centre that sets the bar for public construction in the District of Chetwynd. I am still astonished at the tenacity with which our CAO and his crew brought the building to completion without doing violence to the budget or to the expressed wishes of the present Council for a quality product.
Under the heading of good things happening will be the new Chetwynd Medical Clinic and Wellness Centre. This was a project of extreme importance to Chetwynd’s health and economic viability. Under careful guidance from Administration it was brought to completion without tax implications to the residents and now serves to draw potential medical practitioners to our community.
Many other important improvements, especially to infrastructure, have been put in place during Doug’s administration. Our Capital Improvements budget has been sketched out for the next decade. But be careful about holding Mayor and Council to the fine print. For example, the past few months have been frightfully hard on our streets making it necessary to revise some of the infrastructure plans that were in place for this year.
This is all part of good administrative leadership. The CAO and Administration have to be able to point out changes that must be made if the long-term goals are to be achieved. Mayor and Council must be able to recognize the wisdom of change and have the will to authorize change even at the expense of cherished dreams.
Doug, we wish you happiness as you pursue your future out of the public view (we hope). Keep alert, keep watch, and don’t be afraid to slip in from time to time when life gives you the opportunity.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor