In 2021, consultant KPMG conducted an organization review and one of their recommendations was that the Town “could discontinue the Council Coordinator role of governance for a committee structure”. Instead of coordinators and a Committee of the Whole meeting, it would have four Standing committees with perhaps three councillors on each of them. This was discussed and a new structure proposed at a special Council meeting on 28 November 2022. (See Cobourg News Blog report in resources below). Pending this change, Councillors were not assigned to coordinator roles and most advisory committees were suspended. Earlier this year, an Ad Hoc committee was formed to make a recommendation and since then there have been some community consultations (12 individuals went to the open house!) and three meetings of the committee. They have produced a report but it’s not a consensus.
The Governance committee members are:
Municipal Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor, Deputy Mayor and a rotating Member of Council: Randy Barber and Miriam Mutton.
On Tuesday, October 10, Mayor Lucas Cleveland convened a Special Council meeting to deal with allegations of a toxic environment in this committee. Lucas wanted to deal with this in an open, transparent and collaborative manner.
It seems that Councillor Miriam Mutton felt that there was no real debate or review of options but instead the Staff report was presented as a “done deal”. Although there were no explicit accusations, there was talk of bullying and not allowing alternative points of view. Miriam believed that the Governance committee should have reviewed the options but that this had not been done.
Miriam was not happy with the process although Randy Barber disagreed that it was a “done deal”. Lucas was concerned that Miriam seemed to be questioning the integrity of staff and other committee members but Miriam said that this was not the case – she was questioning their interpretation of Council’s directive. She felt that the Committee was not working as a team.
Lucas said that he would be “working with staff to schedule” training for Councillors to review their role. He then called for a vote on a motion by Nicole Beatty which established next steps:
- A draft by-law to be presented to Council at their Committee of the Whole meeting on October 16 – it would seem that this will call for a change to Standing Committees although we will have to wait to see the draft.
- The Draft would then be put online at Engage Cobourg for public Review.
- The Final Draft would come to Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on November 6
- Implementation of the change would start in January 2024
This motion passed 6-0 with Miriam abstaining. See Resources for full transcript.
- Council debating Governance (Report by staff including recommended structure) as reported on 26 November 2022
- Agenda and video of 10 October Special Council Meeting – 49 minutes
- Full transcript of motion passed