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Gord Gibson, councillor

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Gord Gibson, councillor
First name Gord
Last name Gibson
Age 39
Date of birth August 14, 1940
Community Paris


Story

This interview has been contributed by the Paris Museum and Historical Society. It was taken in August, 1979, by a volunteer for the Paris Public Library.

Introduction

Q: We are interested in your involvement in the town. What committees are you on or what positions do you hold?

A: As of today, chairman of traffic; fire committee? Councillor-at-Large; finance; cemetry.

Q: What are the duties of a Councillor at Large?

A: To look after complaints - citizen complaints.

Q: Is there much contact between the council members and the citizens?

A: It depends whether you have dogs or not. That appears to be a big complaint.

Q: How does the general structure of the Town Council work?

A: You've got a mayor, a reeve, a deputy-reeve, two councillors-at-large and four councillors.

Q: That's a councillor forleach ward. What are the duties of the reeve and deputy-reeve?

A: They are also members of county council. They represent the whole town but they sit on county council.

Q: So they report back to town council. Is that the idea?

A: Yes. 18% of the County Budget is paid by the Town of Paris. So, everytime you see in the paper that the County of Brant did this, 18% is paid by us.

Q: What's the time committment involved in all your committees and councillor-at-large?

A: This is a bad month to ask. We are closed down July and August but I've got three meetings this week. You could make it a full-time job if you wanted to, but, no, it's not a full-time job.

Q: Does the mayor make it a full-time job?

A: He's pretty busy.

Q: You've had some involvement with the town in the past. How many years have you been on council?

A: Three previously, and I'm elected for two now. I was ward councillor for three years.

Q: How do you get to be on the different committees? Are you elected by the town?

A: They are committees of council. They are only held by council members. Oh, I'm on recreation committee too. You are voted into your office and then the council as a whole sit down and decide you're going on this and he is going on that.

Q: Oh, so it's designated to you.

A: It's voluntary, like the army. Everybody must sit on committee. Everybody is on the Finance Committee. None of you have ever been to a council meeting?

Q: No.

A: The first thing you do is pass the bills, You're not in council then. Then you go into council. Mike Robinson is chairman of Finance and he goes through all the accounts. That's a committee meeting.

Q: Are these public?

A: Sure.

Q: Can anyone go to a council meeting?

A: Anybody can come until we say we are giing into Committee as a whole. Then everybody, including the press, is removed, until you are invited to stay.

Q: Do you have press members sit in on many council meetings?

A: Every council meeting, Three of them- the Brantford Expositor, Paris Star and CKPC.

Q: Have you seen many changes over the years on town council in the town?

A: Oh yes. A lot of things we do you don't see. Like, the traffic study. You won't see that until you break the law. You won't see a whole bunch of signs going up or changes because you won't notice it. But, a student has been two months on that and we'll spend another two months to get it ready. So, there's a lot of work to it, but nobody sees it.

Q: What about the downtown revitalization? Are you involved in that at all?

A: All members of council are.

Q: Have they come to any decision yet?

A: I have no comment. It's the wrong question to ask because it's undecided.

Q: I understood it was dicided and was in the initial stages of being implemented.

A: Well, they have some plans and they have some drawings and they're applying for money.

Q: But nothing as of yet is confirmed?

A: No, it's not for sure. When the traffic department gets into it, you've got parking problems on the street fight now. And, they are going to eliminate 31 parking spaces. O.K. and they've got sufficient problems now, and you're going to narrow the street, change the parking and lose parking spaces. But, what are you going to do with these people?

Q: Has there ever been any talk of putting the main street over one street so you could have one-way streets running on either side of the main street? Like Kitchener or Brantford?

A: I don't think I want to answer that question.

Q: Are there any future plans for the town, any drastic changes coming up, that we can know about, or that would be of interest to us?

A: There's difficulty in answering that from the point of confidence in your office. We have lots of things that are happening, but as I said before, you aren't seeing them. The problem with the general public is - well, a new industry announces tomorrow that they are going to build in the town of Paris - most people think we went out today and convinced them to move. It's probably taken us a year. You're working on these things and you know they're going to come but it won't be announced for a year or two.

Q: But, if in fact I sat in on every council meeting this would be no secret at all?

A: No. When you're dealing with industries, the members of council do not know the name of the company. Only the member of council who's dealing with them knows. We have an Industrial Commission - they know industries they are dealing with. A young lady this summer is designing an industrial brochure. That goes out and we go out personally.

Q: Is that to attract them here?

A: Oh yes.

Q: Do you have industries calling you to ask about relocating or locating here?

A: They don't basically call you. You have to call them. So, you have a few contacts to find out that company is even thinking of moving. Once it becomes general knowledge that it's moving, other places have more advantages to offer them than we do. O.K., so we don't want to let everyone know that they're moving because the City of Kitchener would be there the day after they hear, or the day they hear, to try to convince them to go to Kitchener. And we don't want Kitchener as competition Brantford or Toronto or whatever.

Q: What are some of the advantages, would you say of having an industry move to Paris at this time?

A: Jobs, assessment.

Q: What do you see as the expansion for Paris, say in the next twenty years?

A: We'll be 12,000 people by 1988.

Q: Would this increase in population be mainly from industries moving to Paris?

A: Industrial and developments.

Q: Housing developments, which there have been, what, four or five of them in the last ten years?

A: Well, we are just approving one. We are in annexation for a housing development in the golf course. We are in annexation for more industrial land and we are in annexation for other things which will attract people to come.

Q: How have the houses sold or rented in the north end of town? Have the new houses done well?

A: As far as I know they've done well.

Q: Now, are these people just interested inParis or are they commuters?

A: I would think most of them are commuters.

Q: About your family background - were you born and raised.-in Paris?

A: Yes, I'm a Parisite.

Q: Your employment?

A: I work for Massey-Ferguson. I've been self-employed and I've worked for Muttarts.

Q: How did your interest in council come about?

A: I call it my hobby. It takes a lot of work. It is my hobby and I enjoy it. I was on council 1970,71,72 and I was on Committee of Adjust ment four years and then I went back on council. I'm just remembering some more of the committees. I'm an alternate to the Brant Planning Board.

Q: Which means?

A: Gord Boultbee is the Town's representative to the Brant Planning Board. He is the Chairman and I'm his alternate. I'm on Recreation Community Centre Board.

Q: How close does the Town Council work with the County of Brant?

A: Well, we would go to them if it concerned something belonging to the County. Like, Silver Street belongs to the County - it's not ours. Willow Street is a County Road and William Street bridge is a county bridge. They've been County roads for a hundred years.

Q: Could we have your birth date?

A: August 14, 1940.

Q: Are you married? Children?

A: Yes, I'm married with two children - Lisa and Shawn.

Q: Is there any attendance rule for councillors? Are you expected to be there?

A: You are expected to be there but you don't have to go. You don't even have to do your job. What are they going to do to you? The town would suffer though. There have been members of council in the past that have not done their jobs.

Q: DO you have any major complaints made to you, other than dogs or burned-out streetlights?

A: Yes, but I can't comment on them.

Q: When someone complains to you do you take it to council and vote on it there?

A: We don't necessarily vote on it. We may take it to the department they are complaining about to get some information from their side of the story.You may just take it to council and if they have sufficient complaints, we would call the Department Head in and say "Now why are we getting these complaints?". Or you may not do that at all and say, "O.K. we'll just replace that Department", because it could be a Department you just contract out. Therefore it isn't employees, it may be a firm you've contracted out. You'd call the firn in and tell them we're not happy - we're getting all these complaints. We cannot fix these complaints so we're going to change to someone else. We've done that just recently in the past.

Q: Do you have people working for the Council on a professional level, say, an engineer you've hired?

A: Yes, we have consulting engineers - two firms of consulting engineers.

Q: What percentage of people come out to vote when there's an electior in Paris?

A: About 25%. About the highest I've seen was for the liquor vote-I'm not sure what it was but it was fairly high. The average is 21% - 30?;.

Q: What about the average of complaints or "Feedback?

A: It's high. You get alot of calls - not necessarily complaints. Alot of people stop and talk to you about things that are on their minds. They're not complaining they're just interested.

Q: Is this low percentage of voters about average for a town comparable to size and location of Paris?

A: Yes. Unless, there's something like a mayor's race. Then you have a larger turn out. You get a larger turn out than if you don't have a mayor's race. If the mayor's in by acclamation, you'll be down about 20%.

Q: If you have a figure for Paris' population for 1988, what are you looking for in the future of Paris? How far are you willing to let it expand? Are you going to let Paris keep growing and growing or are you going to keep the small town atmosphere?

A: It will always be a small town atmosphere - it will always be a small town.

Q: I would think it would grow beyond a certain limit?

A: I don't see how it can with the City of Brantford so close, Kitchener so close.

Q: Is there a chance that Paris will disappear then with those two cities coming down on it?

A: Never, because the elected mayor and council won't let it. We've been told by the Ontario Government, when Regional Government was greatly in vogue, that Brant County - and you take a look at us, we're the only one - Oxford is re-structured, Simcoe, Hamilton, Kitchener, all the way around us is Regional Bovernment and we are sitting here non-regional and non-restructured. They said the thorn in the side is the Town of Paris - the second largest municipality in the County. We won't let it happen. We don't want to be swallowed up by the City of Brantford. I don't wish to become ward of the City of Brantford.

Q: Is that the con of Regional Government, in your eyes?

A: That's the City of Brantford's idea. If they could control the whole county they would.

Q: What would be some of the pros of Regional Government in this area?

A: I can't see any advantages at all. It has not worked in any area-I won't name the area - but a county in a regional system is bordering a county that isn't in the regional system. The one in the regional system has asked the other county to annex them. This is the only way they can get out of Regional Government. Now, the government is never going to let it happen, but they've asked for it. In every region you look at, there's at least area that wants out of it, becaxise it isn't working.

Q: Why isn't it working?

A: Because out government has a very bad habit of creating a monster for a year or two and then dropping and we have to finance it. They say, "Oh this is a terrific idea, we'll do this", And they create a program that employs students, like yourselves, and they do that for two or three year's and the Town becomes reliant upon the fact that we're going to do all this. And then, they stop the funding.

Q: Is the town instrumental in helping organizations in our town?

A: We aid the band, the Paris Fair, the Boy Scout and the Girl Guides. There's a list of them in our budget and how much we gave. The amount we give is what they request.

Q: Is there any prerequisite for mayor?

A: No, if you get ten people to sign your nomination papers, you're running. Anybody can run for any office they want as long as they own property in the Town of Paris.

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