At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) Council meeting on 24 April, Council debated the recommendation from Staff (Director Brent Larmer) on the next steps in reviewing a change in how Council would operate. Their recommendations were outlined in an earlier Post (see resources below) but at the meeting, Brent presented a comprehensive look at what is proposed complete with pros and cons. Although the recommended motion would not have prevented any changes, Councillor Miriam Mutton convinced council to broaden the scope – see final motion below. The plan includes a timeline with two public meetings and an online survey which has already started. Details will be worked out by a Governance Review Working Group which will include Randy Barber and Miriam Mutton as well as the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
Proposed Public Engagement Timeline
|Survey put on Engage Cobourg||25 April 2023 – now online|
|Governance Review Open House||17 May 6:30 pm Council Chambers|
|Survey closes||29 May 2023|
|Public meeting to present drafts, by-laws, Policies etc||19 Jun 2023|
|Final version of Governance model presented to Council for Approval||17 July 2023|
After considerable debate the following was passed:
THAT Council receive this staff report for information purposes; and
THAT Council support the detailed review of the Council Governance Structure in principle and that the following recommendations be presented as alternative governance model of the Standing Committee System to the current Portfolio System.
And further that since both systems and their variations are in use by municipalities in Ontario, the public survey would clearly summarize and compare the two main alternatives and be reviewed by a newly formed Governance Review Working Group and with input from all Council members. The approved public survey would be sent for public engagement for initial presentation and feedback with the following proposals:
d. Standing Committee System described in the Staff Report and with recommended variations which would replace the current Committee of the Whole System into four (4) Standing Committees and/or mix of Standing Committees and a Committee of the Whole and a Regular Council Meeting happening each month with each Standing Committee having a specific mandate based on the previous coordinator meeting system which includes the combination of participation of all Council Members and three (3) Council Members on the recommended Standing Committees Types. It is anticipated the total number of Standing Committee and Council meetings each month will not exceed four.
e. Council maintains the Statutory Local Boards and Advisory Committees being, the Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Heritage Advisory Committee, and others which may be mandated from time to time. Council may enact Citizen Advisory Committees to Council and consider the creation of Task Forces and Ad Hoc Committees based on the Council Strategic Plan with a specific mandate to achieve Council goals and initiatives during the Council Term with an end term and expiry no longer than twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months or at the end of their mandated purpose.
f. Creation of Governance Review Working Group consisting of the Municipal Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Council appoint a rotating Member of Council to the Governance Review Working Group Councillor Randy Barber; and Councillor Miriam Mutton.
g. one (1) member of Council to be struck in order to draft and prepare all necessary periodic reports and interim analysis and updates to Council including public engagement findings and recommendations, and, to draft by-law and policy provisions with any additional public feedback to be presented to council at a Governance Review Public Meeting on June 19 for full review of proposed structure.
FURTHER THAT the following question be added to the Governance Review Survey regarding the introduction of Town Hall Meetings.
The English is patchy but we know what they mean.
Some other possible changes to note:
- Full regular council meetings would be only once a month
- Meetings might be on Tuesdays instead of the current Mondays
- The public would be invited to be present at the Standing Committee meetings – this is a change from the non-public Coordinator meetings.
- More authority might be delegated to staff for minor issues.
- The proposed structure is not final – so far it’s only a proposal.
I recommend reading Brent’s presentation which is available below and also in the survey documents.
- Brent’s comprehensive presentation – PDF
- Progress Report on Council Governance Changes – 15 April 2023
- Governance survey on Engage Cobourg