Heather and I went for a 6.5 km walk to the tip of MacDonald Island and back on the weekend. Rather than wearing my flip floppy shoes, I decided to put on my high-backed hiking shoes. Bad idea. Half-way through the jaunt, my vulnerable Achilles injury spot ripped open causing bolts of pain to run up my leg. By the time we got home, my sock was bathed in blood.
Several days have passed, and each time the area scabs over, something happens to once again rip open the wound and put me back to the healing starting line.
Our municipality is going through a similar process in recent days and weeks. Just when we thought reconciliation was possible, some new information drops like an incendiary device, creating new devastation, fear, mistrust, a thousand additional questions, and gaping wounds on all sides of what has become a tale of two cities.
...we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
This is as ugly a period as I have seen in my 17 years in Wood Buffalo. Things got messy during the Mac Island debacle that preceded the completion of the redevelopment project, but it was a mere scratch compared to this festering sore.
In the chaos, confusion and cacophony of questions, we latch on to facts, figures and anecdotes that jump out and stick. They become life preservers as we collectively try to keep ourselves from drowning. A consultant's million dollar compensation, $7 million in severance packages, and most recently, $322.56 in scented soaps, get spoken and speculated about around the water cooler, at the bar, and around the dinner table. Our region is awash with questions, uncertainty and what is being perceived by some as multiple breaches of trust.
Who or what do you believe? What is the truth behind the barrage of information that has been hurled at us by members of the media, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and others? What will be revealed by the KPMG audit that is currently underway?
I have no certainty about how this is going to end, who is culpable, or how we can move forward and start the healing process. I wish I did. I wish I could see beyond the firestorm to a time when trust is restored, when "camps" turns back into "Council", and the business of good government can continue apace. The only thing I believe firmly is that the majority of people sitting around the Council table have the best interests of our citizens in mind as they navigate through these turbulent waters.
A good friend of mine once reminded me that in these kinds of situations "there is one side, then there is the other side, and somewhere in the middle lies the truth."
I'm a little closer to all of this than most, having served three years on Council. Many of the people involved are former colleagues and friends. For my own sanity (and serenity), I need to wait until all the facts of this case are clear, questions have been asked and answers given before I make conclusions.
Meanwhile, I'm going to go without socks for a few days and give my sore some air. Uncovering it is the best way to expedite the healing.