Charlottetown council divided over whether project went through due process before announcement
Charlottetown Coun. Cecil Villard
Charlottetown's finance chair says the roundabout at the airport represents good financial planning.
Cecil Villard came to public works chair Terry Bernard's defence Monday night during a debate over the process followed leading up to the province's announcement the project would go ahead in 2013.
"We had an opportunity to make a good decision, make some good financial planning,'' Villard said.
The finance chair also defends council making the decision during a committee of the whole meeting. That's where council meets without the public and media present.
"There have been multiple situations in which we've made financial decisions in committee of the whole and we have to make those decisions because these kinds of opportunities . . . develop. It's not that unusual for us to commit capital dollars in the next year. This was a great, sound financial deal for the city of Charlottetown.''
Villard said the city could spend $500,000 now, with the province and airport as equal financial partners, or wait until later and end up paying the entire $1.5-million cost itself.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel, one of three councillors speaking out against the roundabout, says his problem is that a resolution was never voted on during a public meeting.
"It's pretty hard to back off now. It puts the city in a very precarious situation. There was no formal resolution,'' Tweel said, adding that a "straw poll'' was taken in committee of the whole.
"Committee of the whole (meetings) are not council meetings where decisions are made. There was no decision made.''
Like Villard, Coun. David MacDonald said it was discussed and the majority of council agreed to proceed.
"We can make decisions behind closed doors,'' MacDonald said.
Villard said it's not unusual for council to make a decision behind closed doors.
"We've been doing it as long as I've been around so I'm not quite sure what's out of the ordinary to have this situation before us,'' the chair of finance said.
The airport agreed to come on as an equal funding partner as long as the project proceeded in 2013. The city had originally planned on waiting for federal infrastructure money to begin rolling in 2014 before moving ahead.
When the airport and province agreed to pay a combined $1 million, the city agreed to jump on board.