From: Craig Gammie
Subject: My Comments re Various Agenda Items 29 March 2011 Council
Procedural By-law – Meetings: (page 66 of 29 March council agenda – originally from 14 March COW minutes)
While COW meetings are often extended beyond the scheduled finish time, the list of unfinished business continues to grow. Council meetings routinely finish early. I agree that there may be some efficiency opportunities here.
But in considering changes please be careful not to shut out the public.
As I understand section 21.1 of the procedural manual, a notice of motion can be made at a council meeting, the motion can be on the agenda of a COW meeting for discussion one week later, and a COW recommendation can be adopted by council resolution another week after that.
As I understand section A15.2 (delegations), with contemplated revisions, any person wishing to be heard by council at a COW meeting must submit a written request to the clerk by noon on the Wednesday preceding the COW meeting and at the same time also submit a written version of the presentation (the procedural bylaw actually currently says a general summary of the information to be presented).
As an example, the way I read it, notice can be made in a council meeting on the evening of March 29, the motion can be put on the April 5 COW agenda for discussion, and any member of the public who wishes to address the COW on the issue as a delegation must submit a request to appear and submit their presentation by noon on the 30th of March. In addition, the way I read it, the COW can discuss the motion on the 5th, and make a recommendation, and that recommendation can be adopted by resolution in the council meeting of April 12th.
Given that timing, it is virtually impossible for someone who actually attends the March 29th council meeting to be a delegation on the issue on April 5th.
And given that draft council meeting minutes will only be made public on April 1st, the timing is impossible for anyone who did not attend the March 29th council meeting.
This effectively shuts the public out of the discussion on some major issues.
What I would suggest is that there be at least two weeks between the time a motion is made public and the time that a copy of the presentation, along with a request to appear at the committee of the whole meeting where the item is introduced for discussion, is required to be submitted. Four weeks would be better.
This would allow the public to participate more meaningfully.
I find section A21.1 a bit unclear. If what I am suggesting is already in section A21.1, then my suggestion is simply to clarify section 21.1.
Schedule “B” (page 65 of March 29 council agenda package– originally from From 14 March COW minutes)
I am concerned with the proposal to eliminate schedule “B”. With the proposal, council would still get miscellaneous correspondence. But residents would not. Residents use schedule “B” to keep informed of what other residents are saying and recommending to council. Residents also use schedule “B” to let other residents know what they are saying to council.
Residents also use schedule “B” to monitor proceedings of council committees.
Eliminating Schedule ”B” would shut residents out of the process even more that they already are. I would recommend keeping schedule “B” the way it is. There is no problem with schedule “B” that I can see.
TSBP Strategic Plan (SeeTSBP Agenda Package 29 March 2011 Council pages 78, 79 – originally From 22 March COW minutes, and TSBP Agenda Package 29 March 2011 Council page 84– originally From 25 March Special COW on budget)
I am a big supporter of strategic planning for TSBP. My only concern about the process is that too many are talking as if a strategic plan and an economic development plan are the same thing. The strategic plan should be just that – development of a strategy to best meet the legitimate goals of the people acting as a corporate body. It may have an economic development plan in the strategic plan or it may have an economic development plan for part of the town or it may have no economic development plan at all. If we were to go the route of developing an economic development plan and wrongly calling it a strategic plan, it will have little credibility and could do some serious damage.
The suggestion of getting a strategy development professional to lead the exercise is in my view a good one.
It’s clear that the public is footing the bill on this issue, yet we have no information with which to assess whether that’s justified. Any chance council could be a little more forthcoming?
Sauble Sewers Committee/ Striking Committee (see TSBP Agenda Package 29 March 2011 Council page 149 – originally From Sauble Sewer Striking Committee Minutes 15 March 2011)
I am very much in support of the COW recommendation that got the steering committee started, and I agree with the committee purpose of addressing the Genivar water and sewer report, as presented in the January 18th COW minutes as COW-044-2011 as:
“Recommendaton: THAT an ad hoc Committee be established including members of Council and members of the public to address the Genivar water and sewer report:…. “
Since then the goal seems to have changed to one of determining if there is any credible evidence of a problem. I agree with that modification/ addition. But there is also currently some discussion of “determining if there is scientific evidence of a need for sewers at Sauble”. This newest tack concerns me.
Scientists can gather data, compare the results to standards, and draw conclusions about conformance to standards. I would even stretch that a bit to say that scientists could draw conclusions on whether there is a problem or a potential problem at Sauble.
But no scientist can provide scientific evidence of a need for communal sewers at Sauble. Because once a problem is defined, and root cause is known, the decision of what to do about it, if anything, is not an exercise in science, but rather is an exercise in rational decision making. That decision making may rely partly on science, but it is not science.
We know that when we say “evidence that there is a need for sewers” we really mean “evidence of a problem”. But others who are not close to the situation may not know, and if we ask a scientist for evidence of a need for sewers, it will be up to fortune whether or not we get a rational decision process and a rational decision or recommendation.
If we want to know if there’s a problem, we should indeed ask a scientist.
And while some scientists may be competent in the Environmental Assessment decision process, being a scientist is not sufficient to qualify as competent in the Environmental Assessment decision process.
If there is a problem and we want to know if and if so how we should solve the problem, we should ask for advice not from a scientist but rather from someone competent in the Environmental Assessment decision process.