At a special meeting tonight, the result of the online survey were reported plus Council heard from 7 residents – five gave presentations and two were in writing. There were 8 people in the Gallery. The biggest concern was the planned reduction in the number of advisory committees with a special concern by Gigi Ludorf-Weaver and Warren McCarthy about the disbanding of the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee since then their group would lose a voice giving input to Council. Judy Smith’s written submission agreed with them. But a “hybrid” approach suggested by Councillor Aaron Burchat seems to be getting some attention – that’s where all Councillors would go to all Standing Committee meetings. This would be like having 3 or 4 Committee of the Whole meetings per month but with each one limited to a few departments instead of all of them.
But the first part of the meeting was a report on the results of the online Survey – although only 125 people actually completed it. Brent Larmer gave a detailed report on the survey and promised to put it online but at the time of publication it was not available – instead I’ll summarize the highlights.
Summary of Governance Survey
- The public was told about the survey and invited to participate with two public notices, two emails, three blocks in the local newspaper plus posts in social media.
- There was an open house on 17 May with 12 attending.
- Most of the questions and responses were about how citizens rated Council Communication with the public although there were a few questions on actual Governance.
- About 50% of respondents were 65 or older.
- The response to most questions was on average neutral – that is, half were positive and half negative on various aspects of Council communication and transparency etc. For example the average score for overall satisfaction was 5 out of 10.
- Support for a change in Governance was 76%.
- People like advisory Committees.
- People like Town Hall meetings.
The next part of the meeting was hearing from presenters.
In Person Presentations – Summaries
- Preferred the “hybrid” idea as suggested by Aaron and described above.
- Strongly supports having a Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee
- Wants a Sustainability manager who should report directly to the CAO
- The ICSP (Integrated Community Sustainability Plan) is very important
- An advisory committee is very important since it is a way of providing a voice to council for her group.
Warren McCarthy – supported all of Gigi’s points
- Suggested 3 not 4 standing committees.
- All meetings should be on Mondays with the regular Council meeting being on the fourth Monday.
- Meetings should include all Councillors so they would essentially all be “Committees of the Whole” since the whole council would attend. But each meeting would cover one-third of the departments.
- There should also be Advisory Committees.
David Kuhnke – spoke about providing for Electric vehicles
- Asked about mandated committees (both the Heritage and Accessibility committees are mandated by the Province)
- Wondered why there was so little debate on many subjects. This caused Council discussion! It appears that some Councillors do discuss one-on-one with other Councillors although Miriam said she only debates publicly. Also Councillors will often ask staff about issues before meetings.
- She doesn’t “do social media” and suggested more emails. No-one had a suggestion on how to do better than online surveys using Engage Cobourg.
There were two written submissions.
Judy Smith wants to keep the Climate Emergency Committee and thinks the ICSP is important. She also supports the hybrid Governance idea.
Fred Luken Supports the approach described by Ben Burd. That is:
- Having one Council meeting per month, with attendance from all councillors whenever possible
- Having 3 standing committees, with all council members as participants. E.g.
- One for Public Works, Planning and Development
- one for Parks and Rec., Economic Development
- one for all other matters, including finance, legislative issues
The meeting was useful for homing in on the “hybrid” idea (also called option 3) but it was also evident that few people in Cobourg have an opinion on the subject.
The next step is the Ad Hoc Committee (also called Working Group) will meet to review inputs and recommend to Council. No date was set tonight but a previously provided date for submission to Council was 17 July 2023.
- Brent Larmer Presentation to Council – pdf – 25 April 2023 and 19 June 2023
- Memo from Brent Larmer to Council with recommendations – 24 April 2023 and 19 June 2023
- KPMG Organizational Review from October 2021
Relevant recommendation: Evaluate the potential for a committee structure as opposed to the current coordinator structure
- Governance Survey Questions – pdf Note: a question about Town Hall meetings was added to the version posted online.
Cobourg Blog reports
- Follow up on Governance – 25 April 2023
- Progress Report on Council Governance Changes – 15 April 2023
When Brent puts his reports on the Survey online, I will put a copy here.