Welland’s Goulbourne Should Accept The Verdict Of His City’s Voters And Not Run For Regional Chair

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted December 2nd, 2010 on Niagara At Large

If the voters of Welland didn’t want him representing them on regional council, why should the residents of Niagara have him possibly chosen by the newly elected regional council as our region’s chair?

Welland’s Damian Goulbourne

According to a story posted this December 1 on Niagara This Week’s website, the answer to that question from Welland’s outgoing mayor and defeated regional council candidate Damian Goulbourne is that he is going to put his hat in the ring for the regional chair’s job anyway.

Technically, there is nothing stopping Goulbourne from doing it.  Niagara Region’s bylaws continue to allow for the possibility of a chair being appointed from outside the pool of elected regional councillors, although that has not been the pattern for most of the regional government’s 40-year history.

The last three regional chairs,  Peter Partington,  Debbie Zimmerman and Brian Merritt, were all elected to the council by voters in their respective municipalities of St. Catharines,  Grimsby and Niagara Falls before putting their hats in the ring. But there is still the question.

Even though Goulbourne can, by law, place his name on the slate for regional chair,  should he?

Yes, we know.  He has a base of support out there. Earlier this November, the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce had a column in Niagara daily newspapers endorsing him as the best candidate for the job.

The chamber made this endorsement before getting a fix on who else has since declared their decision to run, including Bruce Timms of St. Catharines, who scored high in the polls to keep his post as a regional councillor in the October municipal elections, and Brian Baty,  a two-term councillor from Pelham who was acclaimed in Pelham because, presumably, no one in his municipality cared enough to run for the job or felt that they could beat him.

Two other elected regional councillors – Bart Maves, a former Conservative MPP from Niagara Falls, and Gary Burroughs, who has served as Niagara-on-the-Lake’s lord mayor, have also declared their interest in the regional chair position.

Therefore,  it seems a little odd that the St. Catharines-Thorold chamber would endorse a defeated Goulbourne before, in Baty’s case at least, even contacting him to learn more about his vision for the region.

After all, the chamber will probably want to work in a cordial way with whoever gets the job. Why make such an endorsement at all?  One of the few answers may be the hope that some have had for while now that Goulbourne would be the next regional chair and they just can’t seem to give up on the idea, even though he lost to two incumbent regional councillors, George Marshall and Cindy Forster.

Goulbourne has apparently done a pretty good job of convincing a core constituency of significant others in the north end of Niagara that he is the best person to fill the regional chair’s seat.

As a long-time close watcher of regional politics,  I can only speculate here but I suspect his support of the Niagara Health System’s so-called “hospital improvement plan” and the NHS’s decision to build the new, $1.5 billion hospital complex in west St. Catharines had something to do with the support he has received from some north-end parties.

By the same token, it may have had something to do with his lack of support in Welland where many there are concerned about what is happening to services in that city’s hospital.

In the Niagara This Week piece,  Goulbourne is quoted saying he wants to put his name in the ring for regional chair because “I believe in Niagara.”  Well so do a lot of the rest of us who live here.

I believe in Niagara enough that I am trying to make a go of it with this online news and commentary site despite the fact that there are little or no opportunities for journalists to make a living in this region.

Certainly Goulbourne can find other ways of showing his belief in Niagara than pushing forward with his ambition (openly expressed by him when he announced his decision to run for a regional council seat rather than run for a third term as Welland’s mayor) to seek the regional chair’s job when he has been defeated by the voters of his own city.

One is kind of tempted to pull Goulbourne aside and say; ‘Hey Damian, can’t you take a hint?”

(Click on Niagara At Large at http://www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary of interest and concern to residents in our greater Niagara region.)

6 responses to “Welland’s Goulbourne Should Accept The Verdict Of His City’s Voters And Not Run For Regional Chair

  1. More Southern Tier politicians then just Goulborne quickly learned that, as far as the electorate was concerned, supporting Debbie ,the NHS and the disasterous HIP Plan could prove to be fatal or a very close call.
    Perhaps the message was strong enough to cause the new Regional Council, as business gets under way, to re-evaluate the need to call for an investigation of the NHS. After all….if everything is as peachy keen as they would have you believe what would be the problem. Debbie et al continue to fight the call to have a general review. Before the HIP is further implimented and causes other communities to suffer serious problems and closures of vital services evaluate the reprecussions to date. Its not a pretty picture.


  2. I should be regional chair.


  3. Elizabeth Chitty

    On the other hand, he is brilliant and progressive and might make a nice foil.


  4. For whom the Bells Toll

    This statement attributed to Goulbourne and appearing in a local newspaper and I quote from that source;

    “Ive been asked by leaders in business, education and not-for-profit to put my name forward”

    This person, along with two other residents of Welland, put his name forward in a bid to be elected for one of the two Welland seats on the Regional Council of Niagara. During the run up to the election He made it known that he was primarily interested in the position of Chairmen of the Region.

    The vote of the peoples of Welland indicated they did not want him as their representative in this forum and certainly not as Chairmen of the Region and because of this he was soundly beaten, finishing a distant third.

    Many have read his recent newspaper statements about support and I for one would like to know where and from who that support is coming.

    His council gave Niagara College $250,000 of taxpayers money and maybe that is the origin of the educational support, then we have the business support well one can be certain that this support DID NOT come from John Deere who fled the city, maybe the Seaway Mall?

    Anyway a citizen by the name of Turner was mentioned as a supporter on the not-for-profit side of the ledger and it seems they are friends for whatever reason.

    So Mr. Goulbourne in your role as mayor you left this city with a debt load that is approximately $60,000,000 and the citizens of this City will have to pay while you move on to what you envision as greener pastures.
    Thus let it be known most people in Welland wish you luck as long as it is not in the Niagara Region.

    Joseph A. Somers
    17 Lyons Ave
    Welland, On
    L3B 1L8
    (905) 734-7037

    Yvette Ward
    216 Riverside Drive
    Welland, on
    L3C 5E4


  5. Mr. Goulbourne doesn’t deserve the Regional Chair position, especially since he wasn’t elected to any position. I have contacted Mayor Sharpe to indicatre my position. Ohers should do likewise.


  6. The first Regional Chair was appointed by the Province a man from N.O.T.L man, who I believe owned a dairy business, he had this post for a long time , it is about time we had more democracy and people should run for election at the same time as Municipal Elections as for Goulbourne’s quest I don’t think he has had a memorable role in politics,or a very high profile, me, I like Norm Puttick of Niagara Falls ,who is against duplication in government, and dislikes waste and wants leaner and better delivery of services.


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