A revised way of holding Council Meetings under the heading of “Governance” may be the single biggest action of Council in its term – so please excuse the multiple posts on the subject. At their Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Councillors were asked to approve the draft by-Law implementing the change but instead they made comments and deferred a decision to a special meeting to be held after more public consultation. Councillors generally accepted the idea of changing to the “Standing Committee” model – there was no discussion of other options such as maintaining the current structure. It looks like the change is a done deal – only minor tweaks are being discussed. A change looks likely in January 2024.
Councillor Comments – highlights
Adam Bureau – was concerned about meeting times and the number of people on each committee (Draft by-law specifies the Mayor and two councillors for three of the four committees and all councillors for one – see Standing Committee responsibilities in Resources).
Brian Darling – liked the proposal – commented that a single coordinator had the risk that a portfolio could be dominated by a strongly opinionated dominant personality. Multiple councillors would mitigate this.
Aaron Burchat – noted that the time limits for speakers could be extended by the chair if necessary. He thought that perhaps 2 committees would be better than the four proposed. He noted that the proposal provided more opportunities for residents to speak.
Miriam Mutton – suggested that there be fewer restrictions on what speakers could talk about. She thought that the change would mean she would be attending more meetings than now. She suggested that more committees should require attendance of 100% of Councillors. The new structure may require additional staff.
Randy Barber – has experience with the proposed structure and it worked well although he is not expressing a preference for one system or the other. He stressed that the proposed by-Law would be a living document and subject to changes with time.
Nicole Beatty – commented that AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) said that Cobourg was one of the few Councils still using the Coordinator Structure. She liked the move of Council meetings to Wednesday – it would mean less work on weekends for Councillors and Staff. She also suggested a “per diem” since some meetings are during the work day – although she understood that this would be a budget discussion. She liked the move from Advisory committees to Task Forces – it would mean more focus. An example would be an ICSP task force.
Lucas Cleveland – Said that “good governance is hard to define”. He noted that Advisory committee members felt their recommendations were ignored and Lucas thought that Council would be more likely to act on task force recommendations. Overall, the change should not be expected to be perfect – just an improvement – it can be modified.
After all Councillors made their comments, they passed a motion to convene a special meeting after more public engagement was held. The meeting would consider amendments suggested by Councillors and the public although there did seem to be a consensus that there should be a change to the Standing Committee structure. No date was specified although it’s likely to be before the previous target of approval by Nov 6. When the date is known, there will be an update here.
- Staff Report: Proposed Updates to Council Governance Structure and Procedural By-law – (Download pdf)
- Proposed by-Law to implement change – (Download pdf)
- Proposed 2024 Meeting schedule