Subsequent to yesterdays’s fire downtown that we wrote about here, the Town held two meetings this morning at Town Hall. The first of these meetings was for downtown residents impacted by the fire and the second meeting for downtown businesses being impacted.
There was plenty of media on hand (print, radio and television) who had hoped to get in on at least one of the meetings, but were barred from sitting in on the meetings themselves. Needless to say these reporters who do not come to Grimsby often were quite shocked at the “closed door” policy of these meetings and said that the secrecy seemed to be a story in of itself. As the saying goes to visitors who don’t understand local customs… “Not from around here, are you?”.
There is plenty of rationale to respect the privacy and well-being of the residents who have been devastated by the fire. Certainly in this time of need we do need to afford them space and privacy and allow them to deal with this devastating event.
Surely the commercial/business meeting did not have to be closed off to the public and media. Fortunately reporters for Grimsby Lincoln News and Niagara News Now were able to “get their foot in the door” on the business meeting literally because of their offices being downtown. Once they have published their respective stories on what transpired, we will definitely share the links with you.
Given the “closed” nature of the meetings and no official update from the Town since last night, the media present was also surprised there was no formal “press conference” or reading of a prepared statement which might reflect what was touched on in the meetings and/or an update to the situation downtown. Rather those media not familiar with Grimsby had to flag down people and find out who was who and whether they were Town management that could speak to the matter or not. It all seemed somewhat shambolic to them.
On a positive note, it was nice to see almost all of our Aldermen showing up to Town Hall who talked to residents/business owners in the lobby outside of Council Chambers. Curiously, it seemed that these Aldermen generally were not allowed into these meetings either. No doubt they showed up to see what role they could play and/or help keep their constituents informed but most if not all seemed to be held back in the lobby.
Perhaps the Town Manager was “playing it safe” as to not have too many members of Council in the same meeting room, which would then form a “quorum” of Council and require minutes and other measures to be undertaken in accordance with the Municipal Act. This topic was explored in great depth in the June 5, 2017 Council meeting.
We do hope that the Town adequately addresses the concerns and needs of residents and businesses affected, whom have been devastated by the events on multiple levels and some of which had no insurance to cover what might be everything they own in the fire.
But with a media “blackout” of sorts, it is difficult to gauge if the Town is delivering the necessary level of measured response to those impacted.