Sackville Town Council passed a unanimous motion Tuesday night asking for a delay in replacing the charcoal drawings on the Sports Wall of Fame (SWOF) with smaller 8 x 10 inch plaques.
The motion by Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken also asked the SWOF board of directors to re-consider making the change that council approved last month after being told that wall space is running out for the 13 x 18 inch drawings.
Aiken said that councillors had received what he called “considerable push-back and commentary” from members of the public about their decision, “and none of it was positive.”
He added that over the weekend, he visited the mezzanine at the Civic Centre where the charcoal drawings are displayed and his measurements showed that there is plenty of space for many more of them.
“There’s about as much room on the back wall of the mezzanine there as is currently devoted to the Sports Wall of Fame,” Aiken said, “so you could effectively double the size of it without making any changes.”
The deputy mayor said that the drawings themselves are unique and that he knew of nowhere else that has such a display of sports heroes and contributors.
“To me, it represents a nice overlap of the arts community and the sports community,” he said, adding that his motion calls on the SWOF board to give the matter some second thought.
“We have council representation on the board now and I think they are more than capable of conveying our sentiments to the board,” Aiken concluded.
Note: The council representatives on the SWOF board are Bruce Phinney and Michael Tower. The other members of the current board are: David Hicks, Gregor MacAskill, Steve Ridlington and Christine Gilroy.
Avoid social media, Black urges
Mayor Higham was just about to call the vote on Aiken’s motion when Councillor Andrew Black indicated he had something to say.
He began by pointing out that town staff had received only two e-mails on changes to the Sports Wall of Fame, both from the same person and that as a councillor, he had received a total of three.
“If you look around the Internet, you see many, many comments about this issue from people in Sackville and beyond,” Black said. “I want to strongly urge citizens of our wonderful community to please reach out to the people who know about what’s going on in Sackville,” he added.
Black said the town’s website lists telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for staff and councillors.
“If you have a question or concern about something going on in town, whether good or bad, get the right information directly from the source,” he said, adding that such comments and ideas would get into the hands of people who could do something about them.
“Please don’t let yourself fall into the swampy mire of news blogs, improperly moderated social media sites or non-town affiliated Facebook pages that thrive on conjecture, misinformation, populist opinion and falsehoods,” Black said.
“Get your voice heard by the people who can make a difference, your elected officials and competent town staff,” he concluded.
Other councillors speak
Councillor Shawn Mesheau reacted to Black’s comments by saying that he had heard from several people about changes to the Sports Wall and had also seen comments online.
“I take to heart anything that is read online,” he said, “and I [also] take it with a grain of salt.”
Councillor Joyce O’Neil said that she ran into a lot of controversy over possible changes to the Sports Wall as she participated in 50+ aerobics classes at the Civic Centre.
She said people there know the sports figures depicted in the charcoal drawings and are pleased with the drawings.
“They’ve encouraged me to just ask that we take another look at things and hope that we can continue in the way we’re going,” she added.
Councillor Bill Evans appeared to agree with Black suggesting that it’s OK to disagree with what council does in online comments, but it’s not OK to be disagreeable.
“Everybody — people who are for and against the decision — want to do what they think is best,” Evans said. “We all want to honour the Sports Wall of Fame honourees. We’re only disagreeing about how best to do that, so let’s not impugn the motives of people.”
Councillor Michael Tower had the last word before the unanimous vote in favour of the deputy mayor’s motion.
Tower said that maybe we need to think outside the box and possibly create an additional Sports Wall.
“I don’t like to see these beautiful…pictures taken down,” he said. “It’s our sports history and we’re honouring them and I think we should keep them there as best we can.”