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Letter: Mayor ‘out of touch’ when it comes to governing in 2019, former development chair says

In a letter to, Vicki Jacobs says Brian Bigger is forsaking transparency and accountability with ‘cloak and dagger’ approach to governing
Vicki Jacobs is a downtown business owner and the former chair of the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation. (Supplied)

Once again, Mayor Brian Bigger has proven himself out of touch with 2019’s standards for good leadership and governance. He talked a great game when he was running for re-election, then promptly resumed his cloak and dagger approach to governing. 

In an era when most private and public sector boards choose more transparency and accountability — with independent and balanced Directors to ensure good governance and fair guidance — Bigger has elected to do the opposite.

Bigger has tabled a motion to dissolve the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) and have council assume “full accountability for all economic development activities and investments as of July 1.” 

Why the rush? Where is the transparency in this? Where’s the third-party oversight? How is this better than our current model? How will new economic development ideas be fostered and nurtured in this closed-loop echo chamber of the mayor’s making? Since when can we count on this mayor and his CAO Ed Archer for sound financial decisions and good city-building? 

Once again, Bigger has completely ignored an expert consultant’s review to do the exact opposite of the recommendations put forward. John Dinner, an expert hired by the GSDC (and therefore the city) to evaluate their governance couldn’t have been clearer. “It is unreasonable to expect council representatives on the board to fulfill their fiduciary duties relative to the (GSDC), given competing interests, pressures and obligations to their constituents.” Further, he states that, in the case of our so-called ‘big projects’ the mayor and council had already started the process of gutting economic development to serve their needs. 

So, this motion just formalizes the move to make economic development a creature of politics and special interests. 

Citizens should be asking, “Why do this? Who benefits?” How do you attract creative and independent thinkers who are not running with Bigger’s pack? Will potential investors in our community bother to call if they know that a political plan, not a sound business plan, is the paramount requirement for supporting new investment in the community? 

We need innovative ideas and new business ventures more than ever. They won’t come from this council, which is neck-deep in a myriad of conflicting and puzzling ventures, from taking over Sudbury Housing to demanding more money from Greater Sudbury Utilities. There have been many successes in the past from the GSDC and council has always had the final say. So why do they need to control and politicize the process? 

Citizens should be asking hard questions of this mayor. When it comes to Bigger’s new economic development model we should look long and hard at who’s going to be on the appointed “Select Cabinet” and after that we should ask why (and follow the money). 

Vicki Jacobs
Past Vice-Chair, GSDC
Past Chair, Community Economic Development Committee
Past Chair, Chamber of Commerce