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 Ibrace@cobourg.ca 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.
- Notification of Public Meeting (pdf – 208KB)
- Full Draft Bylaw (pdf – 10.6MB)
- Memo from Lorraine Brace and Brent Larmer about the By-Law. (pdf – 620KB)
- July 3 Report by Staff to Council (pdf – 2.2MB)
- Report by Cobourg Internet on Bill 68
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.