A Moncton business consultant, who is a longtime Progressive Conservative, has been hired to create the new municipality that will include Sackville, Dorchester and surrounding communities such as Wood Point, Westcock and Pointe de Bute.
Chad Peters is president and CEO of Lynwood Strategies, a communications agency that helps its corporate clients protect and enhance their reputations partly by using social and traditional media and partly by aligning their “goals with those of government.”
in 2007, Peters ran unsuccessfully in a provincial by-election as the Conservative candidate in Moncton East. The Moncton Times & Transcript described him then as “a former businessman who works in Fredericton managing a team of policy and research analysts for the Tories.”
Peters has also served as manager of exploration at SWN Resources, the Canadian subsidiary of a Texas oil and gas company that was drilling test wells for shale gas in New Brunswick. The company ran into trouble in 2013 when resistors from the Elsipogtog First Nation blocked its trucks and occupied the land, actions that led to a violent confrontation with the RCMP.
In 2016, more than a year after a newly elected Liberal government imposed a moratorium on fracking, Peters was laid off when SWN Resources pulled out of New Brunswick. That was the year that he founded Lynwood Strategies.
Peters, who was in Sackville Wednesday for a closed-door meeting with town council, declined to be interviewed for this story
“All media requests need to be directed to the Department of Local Government and Local Governance Reform,” he wrote in an e-mail response to my phone messages.
“He may be a nice guy, but he’s doing a bad job in the sense that he’s been hired to do a bad job,” Councillor Bill Evans told CHMA news after Wednesday’s meeting with Peters.
“He seems like a nice guy,” Evans added. “But if someone comes into your house with a gun and he’s polite, does he get credit for that?
“I mean that’s how I feel about this, this is like a hostile takeover,” Evans said referring to the forced amalgamation.
Councillor Sabine Dietz agreed with Evans about Peters’ role in the process.
“Just remember that he has absolute power over decision-making,” she said, adding that although two advisory committees are being established, Peters doesn’t have to listen to anything they say.
“The little bit of influence that the advisory committee can have, it’s only pretending in this process because there are very clear power dynamics.”
Dietz said that Peters’ title of facilitator is misleading because under the new local governance reform act, he’s hired to act as a representative to implement what the provincial government wants.
“When you’re a real facilitator, you are supporting a process, you are not the decision-maker; you have the power of guiding a process,” Dietz added. “But he has absolute power, what he decides, goes.”
Mesheau more upbeat
Mayor Shawn Mesheau sounded more hopeful after Wednesday’s meeting with Peters.
“We’ve been dealt a hand of cards here that maybe we’re not happy with, but we have to play those cards and move it forward,” he said.
Mesheau explained that one of the advisory committees would consist of elected and appointed representatives and the other of municipal staff.
He said that although initially Sackville was given only one representative on the first advisory committee, Peters seemed receptive to the idea of allowing the town to have two and that he’s hoping that both he and Deputy Mayor Andrew Black will serve on it.
That committee would make recommendations on such issues as the name for the new municipality, how many councillors it would have and which areas they would represent.
The other committee of municipal staff would make recommendations on municipal operations.
Mesheau says that the amalgamation process is designed to build a foundation for the new, amalgamated municipality.
“We’re being grouped with other communities,” he adds. “Ultimately, when it comes to building that foundation, we do have to have consensus within that group…I’m hoping that we can find consensus to build that foundation to move things forward.”
Note: (1) During Wednesday’s meeting, Chad Peters gave permission for the release of his power point presentation. To view it click here.
(2) According to the government website, Peters is overseeing four other municipal units: amalgamation of the Village of Salisbury & surrounding LSDs; amalgamation of the Village of Port Elgin & surrounding LSDs; amalgamation of the villages and LSDs around Alma and whatever changes they’re making to the Village of Petitcodiac.