Cornwall Ontario – Councilor Maurice Dupelle is fuming after his motion was sabotaged in tonight’s agenda. The councilor put forward the position that members of council should have more time and access to the agenda prior to a meeting if they were to be able to make some of the important decisions they are asked to.
His case in point is that last week he received the agenda on Thursday and when he attempted to contact the clerk on Friday she had taken the day off or was otherwise unavailable thus leaving little to no time to discuss her report to council tabled for tonight.
PURPOSETo provide Council with options in order to implement its Resolution of October 12, 2013, in the delivery of the Council Agenda.
To receive Report 2013-71-CL for information purposes and future consideration at the Council Meeting of December 9, 2013.
BACKGROUND / DISCUSSION
At the meeting of October 15, 2013, Council adopted a Resolution requiring Administration to provide Council with the Agenda and its supporting documentation one and one-half weeks (on a Thursday) before a Council Meeting.
The current schedule includes Council Meetings on every second and fourth Monday of the month except for March, July, August and December where there is only one Council meeting scheduled. It would be extremely difficult for the Clerk’s Department and other City Departments to hold to the delivery of the Council Agenda one and one-half weeks before a Council Meeting because it would mean that the the preparation and assembly of the Agenda would occur two days following a Council Meeting.
The preparation and assembly of the Council Agenda would all take place at the same time as the Council Follow-up, including Minute preparation. There would be a lack of time to properly review the Minutes for quality and accuracy and, more often than not, the Minutes would not be presented until the subsequent Council Agenda. The Council Follow-up, upon which City Departments depend to proceed with the various matters decided upon by Council, would also be delayed in order that precedence may be given to the preparation of next Council Agenda. During Election year, this process would be near impossible.
Therefore, we are suggesting options to make the delivery, and the Agenda preparation as a whole, more feasible.
Delivery to Public and Media
A poll of the other Cities as well as consulting with Stephen Fournier, the City of Cornwall’s Closed Meeting Investigator, and a representative at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, reveals that there is no other City in the Province of Ontario that releases the Council Agenda to the public one week after they have provided it to Council. In other cities, the release of the Council Agenda takes place at the same time or within thirty-six hours of delivery to the Council.
Releasing the Council Agenda to the public one week after releasing it to Council would put the City in a precedent situation, which may be considered far from an ideal situation, and which may raise questions with respect to transparency. It could also lead to more requests for information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. These would be refused because of the short delay before public release but would require extra administrative time.
The first option would be to change our timetable and to schedule Council Meetings once per month, that being on the fourth Monday beginning at 7 pm.
If this option is chosen, Administration would suggest unofficially keeping the second Monday of the month open for Special Council Meetings to be called as required during key months or for time sensitive issues.
The second option would be to change our timetable and to schedule Council Meetings every three weeks, except for the months of March, July, August and December when we would schedule Council Meetings once per month.
Although not a common practice, it is exercised in a number of Ontario municipalities such as Burlington, Bracebridge, Blue Mountains, Oakville, Oshawa, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Region of Halton, Region of Waterloo and Temagami.
With both options, a Communication Plan would be implemented to inform the public of the changes and of the Council Meeting dates. This information would naturally be posted on our website.
Modification of the Procedural By-law
In all situations, these changes require modifying the Procedural By-law regarding the delivery timing to Council, to the public, the regular Agenda schedule, periods to receive requests for Presentations and Delegations. This will also affect a number of other sections and cross-references within the Procedural By-law, and will require modification with a Notice of Motion, as per s. 16.3 (By-law, modification to the Council’s previously established practices). This Notice of Motion will be prepared for the Council Meeting of December 9, 2013.
Accordingly, since we are modifying the Procedural By-law and because there are several other unrelated changes that would be appropriate at this time, it would be beneficial to strike a Working Committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of the Procedural By-law.
At the December 9, 2013, Council Meeting, Council will be asked to select its options:
(a) That Council select one of the following options at the December 9, 2013, Council Meeting with respect to the delivery of the Council Agenda:
(i) Delivery of the Agenda to Councillors one day prior to releasing it to the public (this option is the current practice)(ii) Delivery of the Agenda to Councillors one week prior to releasing it to the public
(b) That Council select one of the following options with respect to the frequency of Council Meetings:(i) Once per month, every fourth Monday, plus Specials Meetings as required(ii) Once every three weeks
(c) To create a Working Committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the Procedural By-law.
The question is who directed the clerk to sabotage the motion and where the heck did she get her options as all Councilor Dupelle asked was to add time before meetings for council to review the agenda?
The meeting starts at City Hall at 7 PM. Should be fine; popcorn optional.