Mayor mulls ‘team building’ trip for council

In this December 2018, file photo, Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement speaks at an inauguration ceremony for SD&G county council. Clement is considering a trip for city council to have a team building session somewhere in Eastern Ontario. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Mayor Bernadette Clement is looking at taking council on the road somewhere in Eastern Ontario for a “team building session.”

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Clement says she would like the team building and governance training session, possibly by the beginning of next month before 2019 budget talks begin.

That would be followed by a strategic plan overhaul in the spring after the budget is complete.

The idea to councillors to take them on a trip outside the city – possibly to Gananoque – although no budget or itinerary has been set for the session.

“That’s still not been firmed (up) and we’re still discussing it and, of course, I’ve talked to all the councillors to get a sense of their comfort level around that. My preference would be for it be out of town, not far out of town, still in Eastern Ontario,” Clement said.

The mayor would like the session outside the city in order to have councillors “removed from our daily obligations” in order to concentrate on their city council jobs.

“My fear is that if we do it here, is that we are all very busy, we all have obligations, and it might be a little easy to slip away from a meeting earlier to come late to a meeting because we’re double booked with other obligations. When we’re away and focused only on city business, I think that’s helpful for the team bonding process,” she said.

Clement would also like to connect with “the mayor of that community” to have them visit Cornwall and spend money and time in the Seaway City and possibly have Cornwall end up being a future host for that community’s team bonding.

Asked if taking the session outside Cornwall – which was held in 2010 at Ramada Cornwall and 2014 at the OPG Visitors Center – was taking taxpayer money outside the city, Clement felt the investment would be more effective in building council while also encouraging the host community to come here.

If the session is anything like the last two, the project may become pricey for taxpayers with hotel rooms and meals. Both of the 2010 and 2014 sessions in Cornwall were held over two days and also involved senior city managers.

“My experience with team building…is that it’s generally much more successful when you are outside your comfort zone and outside of your general zone and outside your routine daily activities and responsibilities,” Clement said.

“I don’t plan on doing this often. My view is that I would rather encourage the mayor of that municipality we may be going to, to come here and enjoy Cornwall and spend money here.”