Council Debating Governance

When KPMG issued their Organization review (or was it the Service Delivery Review?), they included a recommendation that the current governance be reviewed – that is, should Cobourg continue with the assignment of coordinator roles to Councillors or should it use a system of “Standing Committees” similar to that currently used by Northumberland County? This would mean there would not be Committee of the Whole meetings – instead a few (3?) councillors would be assigned to responsibilities (e.g. as Coordinators are now) and they would meet in separate meetings. Chaired by one of the Councillors and getting input from relevant staff, they would develop recommendations for action by a regular full Council meeting. The committees would not have citizen members although citizens could make presentations to them.

This possible change will be proposed at the Special Council meeting on 28 November. In 2021, Council made resolution #453-21 directing that this be done (Download here).

With such a structure, there will likely be changes to the citizen advisory committees so until this is decided, it will be recommended that Council not appoint any members of advisory committees. However, they need to appoint members of boards mandated by the Province or which are otherwise mandatory.

Proposed Committee and Board Appointments:

Mayor Lucas Cleveland:

  1. Town of Cobourg Holdings Inc.
  2. Northam Industrial Park
  3. Audit Committee

Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty

  1. Northam Industrial Park
  2. Cobourg Police Services Board
  3. Audit Committee
  4. Cobourg Downtown Business Improvement Area Board of Management (DBIA)

Councillor Adam Bureau

  1. Cobourg Police Services Board
  2. Community Emergency Management Program Committee

Councillor Brian Darling

  1. Audit Committee
  2. Water Quality Accountability Liaison Committee
  3. Community Emergency Management Program Committee

Councillor Aaron Burchat

  1. Cobourg Library Board
  2. Art Gallery of Northumberland

Councillor Miriam Mutton

  1. Water Quality Accountability Liaison Committee
  2. Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority 

Councillor Randy Barber

  1. West Northumberland Physician Recruitment and Retention Board
  2. Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority

Although these appointments are on the Agenda at the 28 November Council meeting, they could still be changed at some point.

Notable changes

  • Mayor (Lucas Cleveland) and Aaron Burchat will not be on the Police Board – instead it will be Nicole Beatty and Adam Bureau.
  • Adam Bureau will not be on the DBIA Board.

The Special Council meeting on 28 November should be interesting.

Resources

Evaluate the potential for a committee structure as opposed to the current coordinator structure.

  • Align the Town’s structure for Council-staff interactions with best/common practice for Ontario municipalities and ensure an appropriate delineation between governance and operational responsibilities.
  • This opportunity should be deferred until after the 2022 municipal elections.

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3 Comments
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Cobourg taxpayer
28 November 2022 5:49 pm

My concern is transparency of governance to the taxpayer. County decisions as far as I can tell have little input from the taxpayer. Years ago I wanted to present at county council. I was told NO as the the topic of my presentation was not on the agenda. Are the proposed changes to governance for the town of Cobourg increasing accountability, taxpayer input and transparency?

Chris
27 November 2022 3:55 pm

“Chaired by one of the Councillors and getting input from relevant staff, they would develop recommendations for action by a regular full Council meeting. The committees would not have citizen members although citizens could make presentations to them.” This concerns me greatly. So advisory committees would now be lead by town staff and have no members of the community who generally have a level of expertise in said committee? Would this not reduce citizen input / voice?

Ben
27 November 2022 8:58 am

Having looked at the committee structure at the County, it is only marginally better than the coordinator system. Six committees one for each Councillor the Warden and one other, only three members in total for each committee. The result we still have uninformed Councillors at the County level on most of the topics to be debated.

Politics rather than efficiency plays a big part in this endeavour. Councillors like their egos to be rewarded by being the Chair of a Committee. Rather than deciding on the number of committees by the organisational need they set the number of committees by the number of Councillors so that egos are stroked.

So if Cobourg is going to go this way we have still failed to have fully informed Councillors and efficient decision-making. Standing Committees, in order to be fully informative for all Councillors, all Council members should be on all the Committees. The numbers of Committees should be reduced to no more than three – Planning, Operational and Finance. One meeting a week and a Council meeting every four weeks – do we really need a Council meeting every other week?

Just my two cents worth!

Last edited 2 months ago by Ben