At the March 22 Ashcroft council meeting, an area resident asked council to consider holding public question periods both before and after council meetings.
Gloria Mertens, who regularly scrutinizes the council agendas and poses several questions at the start of most meetings, suggested council add a general public question period at the end of the night as well. She noted that over the past three years there has been an “erosion of public engagement” at the council chambers, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 health orders.
Council agreed to consider the request at the next meeting in April. Coun. Deb Tuohey said she likes having the question period at the beginning of the meeting because it gives them more time to think about residents’ concerns. The village only instituted a question period in 2019.
Mayor Barbara Roden said a review of other municipalities showed various policies in terms of whether they held one, two, or no question periods. However, all of them had a stipulation that any queries pertain to the night’s agenda. She said residents who have general questions are always welcome to call the Village of Ashcroft.
“Staff is excellent at following up and making sure those questions are answered,” she said.
Ashcroft council has awarded a $233,900 contract to Drake Excavating Ltd. for the sand separator project at its water treatment plant. The company was one of two bidders on the project. Cummings Construction Ltd. had bid $318,907 for the project.
The Community Garden Working Group was scheduled to meet March 30 for a site assessment. The preliminary scope of the project, located near the blue truck beside the Heritage Park, would include raised garden beds, six-foot-high high chain-link fencing and gates, benches, garbage containers, a garden shed, and irrigation. The group has applied for two grants, at $30,000 each.
Mertens questioned why the garden would have a six-foot-high fence, saying this would be an “opposing structure and not very inviting, it’s almost like a prison.”
Roden said the working group is in the preliminary stages and everything is still under discussion. However, she added a majority of gardens are fenced in some way and the fence could be augmented with climbing plants or decorations.
Tuohey noted the garden may offer plots to apartment-dwellers and not be open to the public, so a fence could be in order, while Coun. Nadine Davenport said a fence would offer some safety and security to the site, which is next to the railway line.