By Mark Squibb/September 30, 2021
Former Conception Bay South Deputy Mayor Richard Murphy and councilor-at-large Kirk Youden took some moments during the September 21 meeting, the last meeting of council before Tuesday’s election, to bid farewell to fellow members of council, as neither man ran for re-election.
“Having spent eight years on council in Conception Bay South has been nothing short of a privilege for me,” said Murphy. “I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it, even though there were times where we questioned ourselves as to why we were so foolish to do it.”
Murphy said that for the two terms he was on council, his fellow members served the community well — despite what some folks might say.
“Contrary to what you hear people say, especially on social media, which is, as far as I’m concerned, totally, totally scandalous, with some of the stuff that people say and hide behind a keyboard doing it — but, contrary to those comments, both councils that I was involved with did nothing but stellar work for this community,” said Murphy, who before entering politics served as the town’s Fire Chief.
Murphy admitted that mistakes are sometimes made at council, and that tough decisions have to be made, but overall, what is done by council is done for the benefit of residents.
“I was honored especially in my last term to be selected as deputy mayor,” said Murphy. “That I really enjoyed.”
He also offered thanks to the residents of Ward 4, whom he represented. He said that residents, even those who had issues or concerns, were never belligerent, but always kind and polite.
“I was so happy to be able to help some, but unfortunately not others, though it wasn’t for a want of trying,” said Murphy.
He commended members of council and staff before signing off, and noted finally that after 67 years of living in Conception Bay South, he will be moving elsewhere next Friday, although he did not specify where, other than to say “the country.”
Next, Kirk Youden spoke at length about his 16-year tenure.
“I asked my wife if I could run (the first time),” said Youden. “She was seven months pregnant, and she said yes, but you’re not spending more than $1,000.”
That was in 2005, and Youden has been sitting at the council table ever since.
He credited his mom Patsy Youden, whom he dubbed as probably the best campaign manager in CBS, as convincing folks to vote for her son.
The rest, said Youden, is history.
He praised the many councilors he has served with over the years, and praised the good work done by council, such as road upgrades, corrections to the Topsail sewage treatment plant, development of the T’railway, the building of both the new arena and the fire hall, development of the Gateway commercial park, and more.
He recalled his first task as a new councilor was to put on a hazmat suit to visit the old swimming pool, which had been condemned due to mold, and said many of the town’s successes were achieved in collaboration with local groups, volunteers, and governments.
Youden spoke at length to the Gateway commercial park, saying that while the park is yet far from booming, future councils will have more success.
“We’re cost neutral, and we have 200 plus acres of land, and when I first got on council, we didn’t have any commercial land in this town,” said Youden. “And it hasn’t lived up to expectations, but I guarantee you that they’re not making any more land, and at some point, some council is going to be thankful that we took the time to plan and to implement that. It will come to fruition. It needs a different approach, and I’ve expressed some of those other approaches that we might want to take in the past, and we all have different views on it, but it’s an asset for the town and it’s a large one, and its one that we never ever had. So, I think that people are looking at that as an albatross when they should be looking at it as a planning asset.”
Youden said that he spoke with the Director of Finance, who estimated that in the four terms Youden served, council completed about $137 million of work, including about $90 million on roads and water and sewer projects.
Youden also took a moment to speak to members of the next council — and take a shot at those who have lambasted this council on social media in recent years.
“Your job is to listen to all voices, not necessarily the loudest ones or the rudest ones,” said Youden. “Social media is not public consultation… and I truly hope that post-COVID, you can get back to some of the face-to-face consultation. Because I do think that there’s things that people who stand behind keyboards say that if they said it to your face, they’d probably get a punch in the face. They lack the integrity and kindness that that most people expect, at least in face-to-face interactions.”
Youden shared his hope that each current member of council is re-elected before signing off to applause from his colleagues.