Published: September 27, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Mayor and Council will have to continue to attend meetings in person after the group considered and dismissed a by-law amendment that would allow electronic participation in monthly council meetings.
On Sept. 25 the group accepted a Committee of the Whole recommendation regarding amendments to the Procedural By-Law put in place to align with upcoming changes to the Municipal Act.
The amendments include a change in the definition of meeting, new guidelines for “closed” meetings and processes for pecuniary interest declarations.
What it did not include was a discretionary change that would allow municipal representatives to use communication devises to attend meetings.
Presenting the by-law amendment options to council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Sept. 11, Clerk Christine Goulet told those gathered the option of appearing through electronic mediums was just that, an option, and provided a series of questions and/or considerations for debate.
Councillors quickly challenged the discretionary provision with Deputy Mayor Sandy Middleton noting the change would provide disruptions to both Councilors free time and staff time to implement the system.
“My feeling is if we have never had a problem having quorum and if I want to go on holidays in Hawaii I am off and running.”
Councilor Jack Goodwillie noted it’s the elected member’s responsibility to be available for meetings.
“I like things just the way they are. If you can’t make the meeting, can’t be there, it is your problem.”
Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, was proclaimed this past June in an effort to amend and update the Municipal Act of 2001. Despite having received the provincial government approval earlier this summer, sections of the Act have yet to come into force.