Public Debate on Council Size Derailed

Updated May 25, 2013
On March 5, I wrote about a decision to take the question of a change in Council composition to the public. I applauded that decision as open and democratic. A vote by a subset of Council in early April first appeared to have killed that process. Working with the Town's clerk I drafted a motion to resurrect the process. That motion went nowhere. Details below. (The problem has since been reversed.)

As part of a regular Committee of the Whole meeting April 2, we reviewed a plan from the formert town clerk, Rob Tremblay, to organize public meetings in late April and early May to explain the seven composition options and to distribute a ballot.

After we discussed aspects of the plan, the chair put it to a vote. Three members were absent that night: the Mayor and councillors Gillis and Abbott. That gave the four members least interested in changing the composition numerical equality with those who advocated a change.

Councillors Minnille, Ferguson, Dalgity and I voted yes to the clerk’s public participation plan. With eight members at the table, just four in favor created a tie. Under our procedural rules, a tie is a defeat. The four who did not support the motion were councillors Edwards, Watters, Wilkinson and Cameron.

On May 7, I introduced a new motion to present the original list of council-change options at two public meetings. Various members had so many issues with the numbers of options to present (even though Council in March agreed to those options), and dates for open houses, and the number of open houses, that the motion never went to a vote.

Council held a special meeting May 23 to renew the public process.