Making an informed decision or a popular decision is one of the challenges facing those in leadership. This is what I and Council was confronted with last night.
Our City Strategy & Development Policy Committee was faced with making a recommendation to Council. The topic, a development plan amendment of an aged care precinct. The precinct is bounded by Norman Terrace, Fourth Avenue and Ross Street Everard Park.
To help inform us in our decision making we sought the input of our ratepayers. Many believe that this is a vote and the majority public view should be the view expressed by Council when they vote.
Councillors are elected to represent the ratepayers. That is true. It is one of their two basic roles. The other is to make decisions for the good of the community as members (if you like) of a board of directors.
We are duty bound then to seek the views of those we represent. We must however make informed decisions. To do this we must make every endeavour to be informed (beyond the views of ratepayers) before making a decision.
Informed decisions will often therefore be unpopular decisions. Such was the case with the residents of Everard Park.
This was the dilemma facing our rate payers and (last night) council. Being able to envisage what a 4 storey development would look like in the streets behind 2 storey houses. Many a councillor I believe was reluctant to make the decision we know we should make. We did not want to alienate the community.
The question. Do we make an informed Decision or a Popular Decision.
This is when it was important for me to step up to the plate.
In my work life it was necessary for me to be able to visualise built form before construction. This is a skill very few people have. I know this, as many of my clients back then often said to me at practical completion of their project “so this is what it was going to look like”.
I moved what was a motion for an informed decision. The reasons behind can be found here, along with diagrams I produced to make sure my line of sight assessment was accurate. While members followed this lead with a 10 to 2 vote, we all felt for the ratepayers who honestly believe other than what I debated.