Changes at Council Meetings

Prior to the next Council meeting on Tuesday October 10, there will be a special meeting to present to the public planned changes in Council Procedures.  Residents will be able to comment on the changes before the final bylaw is written then passed at a future Council meeting.  The proposed changes include moving the time of meetings from 7:00pm to 4:00pm, a provision for more closed door meetings, the definition of public meetings is simplified, a number of changes related to motions, changes to rules about delegations and more.  The changes would be effective January 1, 2018 and many are mandated by Provincial legislation.  Council was advised about the implications of the legislation in a memo on July 3rd and at a Council meeting on August 21, 2017.

You can download the 46 page draft bylaw below but the following is a summary:

There are changes to

  • Council Codes of Conduct – details spelled out
  • Integrity Commissioner – an expanded role
  • Council/Municipal Staff Relations – details spelled out
  • Meeting Provisions – definition of “meeting” is changed and the time for Committee of the Whole and Regular Council meetings is changed from 7:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Electronic Participation – no longer allowed (para 7.9)
  • Closed Meetings – revised and clarified
  • County Council Appointment of an Alternate – the Deputy Mayor stands in for the Mayor if necessary at County meetings
  • Municipal; Conflict of Interest Act Changes – conflicts must be documented and not just verbal.
  • A number of detailed requirements about motions and how they should be made
  • The requirement to read bylaws 3 times will be removed.

The Provincial legislation prompting many (but not all) of these changes is Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act which makes changes to the Municipal Act.


  • The definition of Council meeting previously had many exceptions but the new definition says it’s a meeting that must be open to the public if “members discuss or otherwise deal with any matter in a
    way that materially advances the business or decision making of the Council, Local Board or Committee.” No exceptions.
  • The Motions section of the procedural by-law includes “updates/additions of: Reconsideration, Recess, Reconvene, Tabling, Lay on the Table, Withdrawal, Notices of Motion and a new section on the precedence of motions of a meeting;”
  • The behaviour of “members” (councillors) in debate, placing motions and debating is subject to new rules.
  • There is no mention  of the chair (usually the Mayor) having a deciding vote – all votes are equal.
  • Four additional categories have been added for closed meetings but these do not seem contentious.  See the full draft bylaw.

Addressing Council, Delegations

  • Any individual wishing to address Council must notify on a delegation request form no later than 1:00 p.m. on a Friday preceding a Council meeting.
  • If you are attending as a delegation, notification is required 1:00pm on the Wednesday before.    These times were previously 4:00pm.

If you wish to speak about the changes at the Public Meeting, you should contact Town Clerk Lorraine Brace before the meeting by email at [email protected] or show up at the meeting in Council Chambers at 6:00pm Tuesday, October 10.    There was a notice about the meeting issued some time ago but the new draft bylaw has only been available since Friday October 6 at 3:30pm.  No timetable is given for passing the revised bylaw but it needs to be before year-end if it is to be effective January 1, 2018.


 Addendum – Council C.O.W. Meeting October 23, 2017

There was some  discussion on the idea of a 4:00 pm start with Councillor Burchat suggesting perhaps 5:00pm would suit some people.  It was pointed out by several councilors that if that was the reason why some people would run or not, then they were not taking into account the large amount of other work required during the day. Gil mentioned that a concern about watching Council is no longer valid given that meetings are now available at anytime online.  Councillor McCarthy kicked off a  long discussion on Q & A saying that people wanting a Q& A really wanted a debate but that was not a good idea.  Other councilors supported her.  The new bylaw as described above was approved unchnaged and will face final approval at the Council meeting on October 30.

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6 years ago

Just watched the video of this meeting and am appalled that not one person in the audience mentioned that changing the time of the meeting denies access to Council if you work during the day. In fact the only person who mentioned this was the only person on Council with a daytime job.

The Chair of the CTA summed it up well, after emphasising that her remarks were not a CTA statement, when she said demographics – more older people, supported a change. I guess we should get all the wrinklies in bed by nine so they can rant and rave about what’s wrong with Cobourg and the taxes they pay when they rise early – get a good start on the moaning and get it in early!

6 years ago

A consultant to Cobourg once said, the context being that shops in Cobourg were closing 5 ish, that the merchants were only going to be selling to the unemployed. Harsh but sort of true. In this situation where Council are primed to start Council meetings at 4 p.m. leaves the unemployed (jobless, retired) as being the only possible participants. Also guarantees that young, busy entrepreneurs don’t make the Council roster. Throwing this option in amongst all of the required legislative changes seems a bit of slight-of-hand. Just sayin’.

6 years ago

So the Town of Cobourg is looking to move their meeting times from 7pm to 4pm. And some of the citizens of Cobourg are raising a stink. Why do these same citizens not yell and scream at the County level who meet once a month on a Wednesday at 9:30AM. Cobourg does contribute the most to the County levy but nobody says a word. Just my thought. Now all you nay sayers can do your regular thing and start attacking my comment about how out of touch the county is etc…and GO!

Reply to  Mark
6 years ago

Probably because the County has no relevence in our Municipal activity, they really do not monitor all aspects of our community. It looks after the roads, old people, some planning and noisy economic development and tourism departments as well as Social Servces and waste management. We may pay almost 30% of the levy but apart from driving on County Roads – Elgin Street and Brook Rd. why would we think of the County let alone want to get involved in their activities. So who cares when they meet, after all they are so efficient one meeting lasting less than three hours a month does the job.

Bill Thompson
6 years ago

“You can fool some of the people all of the time,all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Their Sell By date has long past expired.

Dave Moore
6 years ago

It is obvious they do t want to hear from the people who support them. An election is coming up next year I believe let’s bring in a whole new lot….

6 years ago

The Zombie arises from the dead – the proposal to change the time of Council meetings. What with only one person on Council having a real job and the rest of the pensioners wanting to be in bed by nine this idea will succeed this time, effectively gutting opposition and public participation from those who cannot take the afternoon off to attend Council! Also the proposal to ban electronic participation fully confirms this Council as being behind the times despite how many communications people they hire.