Revisions to Draft Council Procedural By-Law

As reported earlier (see link below), at Monday’s Committee of the whole meeting, Council was asked to approve a draft revised procedure for council meetings.  The intent was to present it to a public meeting on January 28 looking for input.  But Emily Chorley spoke for several on Council who wanted immediate changes – in particular, items that dealt with delegations and a question and answer period.  Emily said that the proposed procedure was “moving in the wrong direction” and she would be putting forward 20 amendments to the document.  She suggested that Council’s consideration of the document should be postponed until after the public meeting but Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin pushed ahead with a line by line review of the document so that it would be more in line with Councillors’ views.

D.M. Suzanne Seguin leading review of Procedure
D.M. Suzanne Seguin leading review of Procedure

Town Clerk Brent Larmer said that he would be using a Powerpoint presentation at the public meeting to explain the rationale behind the proposed changes.

Mayor John Henderson assured everyone that no changes would be passed until after the Public meeting.

From the beginning, Emily and others were clear that they were listening to what they heard during the election campaign and that there needed to be more citizen input – not less or limited.

Nicole Beatty was vocal on the need to have Q & A sessions more frequently than quarterly but John Henderson cautioned that meetings could get excessively long and exhausted councillors would not think as clearly.  Brian Darling suggested there be a trial period. But in the end, Council voted that instead of quarterly Q & A sessions, they would be allowed after every Committee of the Whole with a maximum allowed of 5 minutes per question.  They would be limited to subjects relevant to the agenda although staff would be present to possibly help with answers.

Council also agreed that the number of delegations should not be limited to 4 – or any other number.

Emily raised a number of other issues with the general idea that there should be minimum restriction on delegations but after Brent explained the rationale behind various clauses, there were no other significant changes.

Brent will incorporate the above detailed changes into a new draft that will be up for consideration at the public meeting.


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Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

Of Canada’s three of levels of government, the municipal one is the most trusted, the most open and the most accessible. Unlike Cabinet decisions, municipal legislation and policy decisions are formed in open meetings, debated by Councillors in open meetings, and voted on not according to party discipline but as to what each Councillor as sees best for the municipality.
It is also the most accessible, because Mayors, Deputy Mayors can often be reached on the phone or by e-mail correspondence.
Over the last few years, I have seen on this blog attempts to undermine public trust in our municipality by accusations of secrecy, favouritism and conflict of interest.
Councillors are accountable not just to the voters in elections, but to local Omudsmen between elections.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario – with 444 member municipalities – has issued this warning: “An accountability framework should have safeguards to prevent and to address frivolous and vexatious complaints. Without these safeguards, it could be misused for political and other ends.”
The current Draft Council Procedural By-law should have such safeguards. Q&A sessions should only ask for information, not score political points or hold Councillors ‘feet to the fire’. And all the changes coming from the Procedural By-law should be subject to a trial period.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

Over the last few years, I have seen on this blog attempts to undermine public trust in our municipality by accusations of secrecy, favouritism and conflict of interest.

I remember a guy who was worried about a real estate salesman running for council. Said he would be subject to conflict of interest.
Not a downtown retail store owner, not someone who runs a publishing company, not any other business person in town, just the real estate guy.

”Not sure whether a real estate broker on Council would be a good idea.
Realtors earn their living by marketing housing and insider knowledge of Cobourg’s development plans could be a built-in conflict of interest.
The more housing being built, the more sales opportunities and the heftier commissions.
Developers would have an incentive to doing business with Mr. Percolides since he has the inside track as a Councillor.”

Walter L. Luedtke
21 June 2018 7:01 am

5 years ago

Ah…. democracy at work! Very pleased to hear about these recommended procedural changes. I’m feeling this will be a very positive and productive year on Council.