RE: February 21, 2012 Council Agenda
The pdf version of the full agenda package is available on the town website at:
An Html version is at:
Comments on a few interesting items in the Council Agenda Package
4.4 Litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board AND Personal matters about an identifiable individual including municipal or local board employees (Municipal Solicitor)
Whoever puts the “closed” agenda together should read the Municipal Act. And the ombudsman’s report 2010. The agenda item is supposed to tell as much as possible. “Municipal Solicitor” tells nothing.
I assume that agenda item 4.4 is as required by this January 30 2012 council resolution as reported in 2012 02 07 council agenda:
16. DIRECTION FROM CLOSED-BLOG LITIGATION
It was MOVED by J. Kirkland, SECONDED by J. Turner and CARRIED
THAT we request our municipal lawyer and other lawyers with expertise in labour and litigation
law to attend a meeting with the Town on the matter that was discussed in closed session
I cannot know, but I hope the discussion has something to do with whether the town should continue to fund “the lawsuit”.
I was told that the “Municipal Solicitor” that is coming to the closed session is with the firm Millar Thompson, which is the same firm that is representing the plaintiff, and is being paid taxpayers’ money.
I hope the information is wrong. They wouldn’t have the gall. Would they?
6.2 Minutes Special Council-February 10, 2012
The February10 minutes seem to be missing from the agenda package
7.1 Economic Development Committee-Introduction and Committee Function
The Economic Development Committee asked for and was granted 45 minutes to come before council and the public so that the committee members could tell council and the public how important they are, and how the municipality would wither and die without them.
Committees are formed by council to serve a specific public interest purpose. Their “function” is determined, or at least is supposed to be determined, by council, as representatives of the public. But on February 20, members of the EDC are going to tell council and the public what their function is. Do we have the accountability turned around a bit?
This delegation should not even be on the agenda. That they are on the agenda illustrates how totally out of control the EDC is.
The EDC, contrary to what it should be doing, are doing great harm to the municipality, by sucking up taxpayers’ money.
The EDC needs to be disbanded.
8.8 EDC01-2012 Strategic Plan
Economic Development Officer Danielle Mulasmajic wrote the strategic plan RFP (Request For Proposal) and is the town contact with the strategic plan consultant DPRA. Danielle is also secretary to the EDC. Council has never asked the EDC to get involved in the strategic plan. They did that all on their own.
This little arrangement gives the EDC undue influence in the development of the strategic plan. This is unacceptable because the undue EDC influence diminishes the influence of the public. It’s also unacceptable because the EDC influence is harmful to the public.
The recommendations from the EDC regarding the strategic plan should be denied.
Note that EDC members are welcome to input to the strategic plan just like any other citizen. But they should do it as citizens, outside the EDC.
The EDC recommendation that a strategic plan sub-committee be appointed by council to work with the consultant is especially wrong. Because it is really a recommendation to appoint the EDC as the strategic plan subcommittee.
To be clear, I am in support of Councillor Jackson’s motion to delay the final draft of the strategic plan pending more public consultation.
8.11 BOWMAN15-2012 School Resource Officer
OPP at a recent council meeting recommended increasing the police services contract by one person at a cost of $150,000 for a school resources officer. Then they indicated that they already have a school resources officer doing the job. Councillor Bowman is correct in asking what’s going on here.
8.12 BOWMAN16-2012 Grants and Donations
Councillor Bowman is recommending that council consider the formation of a working group to develop requirements and a weighting measure for future Grants and donations.
This is totally unnecessary. Sections 106, 107, and 224 of the Municipal Act provide all the guidance necessary. If these sections are considered properly, the grant program will be so small it will not need the advice of a working group.
8.15 CLK13-2012 Terms of Reference, Planning Advisory Committee/Committee of
Council currently has a Planning Advisory Committee and a Committee of
Adjustment. All members of council constitute membership of each of these committees.
Council is considering having fewer councillors and adding public appointees for both committees.
I have no concerns about the new structure for a Committee of Adjustment, as long as council can find competent unbiased people to sit on the committee. Otherwise we will just have everything appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
The proposed change to the Planning Advisory Committee is a different story. Currently the planning advisory committee uses Bruce County planners to advise them regarding planning applications (applications for amendments etc.). This system seems to be working well. There is no need to bring in new committee members to replace the County planners, or to augment the effort of the county planners.
County planners have recently recommended rejection of some applications for amendments to the TSBP official plan. It is no secret that this irked a few council members.
Call me suspicious if you like, but this Planning Advisory Committee change proposal looks a bit like a scheme to get a committee that will support whatever amendments to the official plan are asked for, without considering the merits.
This would only lead to many more proposals being appealed to the OMB, at great and unnecessary cost to everyone.
The planning advisory committee proposal needs more discussion.
One set of “terms” is presented for both committees, as if they were a combined committee. This is wrong. They are separate committees with distinctly different roles. Two sets of terms are necessary.
Regarding reports of the Planning Advisory Committee, the draft “terms” document indicates that recommendations of the committee “will be reported to Municipal Council by submitting a formal report, prepared in the Town of South Bruce Peninsula format. The report will be signed by both the Committee Chair and the Chief Administrative Officer.”
Call me suspicious, but is this not the CAO inserting herself into the policy discussion – again? The CAO should not have anything to do with the content or substance of any committee report. (See also agenda items 8.18 and 8.22).
8.17 CLK15-2012 Letter to Staff and Council, R-104-2012 Clarity to Council
This item was brought forward out of a concern about staff providing speculation and guesses about an issue, rather than facts, and that council was at times making questionable decisions based on staff speculation.
A letter to staff was supposed to end the speculation and result in facts being provided to council instead.
The draft letter presented in the agenda package fails to do that. The draft letter doesn’t even identify the problem.
It needs to go back for redrafting.
8.18 CLK16-2012 Letter to Officers and Employees, R-102-2012 Interruption and
This initiative was brought forward because certain staff members are continually and inappropriately inserting themselves into the policy debate, as if they were elected representatives.
A letter to staff was supposed to be drafted to stop inappropriate interruptions and comments in council and committee meetings.
The draft letter to staff in the agenda package fails to do this. The letter should be sent back for redrafting.
A “guide” written by Ministry staff has been included as an attachment to the proposed letter.
This “guide” should be taken with a grain of salt, as the “guide” writer clearly does not understand the nature of a municipality as a corporation, or the role of council, or the role of staff.
The worst error in the “guide” is the indication that council makes decisions in the public interest and also makes decisions by compromise. But for the most part it is not possible to simultaneously pursue “the public interest” and “compromise”. Any more than a judge can find a “compromise” between a plaintiff and a “defendant” in a civil suit. The public interest must be paramount. That’s what the Act says. There is nothing in the Act that would suggest “compromise” as bearing on public policy decisions, and certainly not trumping “the public interest”.
The MAH staff document says about strategic plans” “The [strategic] plan is a framework that encourages consistency in municipal decision-making among both councillors and staff.” This is completely contrary to the Act. The Act is clear that council, as representatives of the people, makes the decisions. Staff implement.
The role of staff in policy debates and discussions is best taken directly from the Act, rather than some provincial Bureaucrat’s rambling narrative.
8.20 CAO09-2012 Sauble Sno-Riders Clubhouse Request
In August, a majority of council, in an effort to win a popularity contest by seeing who could give away most of the public’s assets, and against the advice of citizens, made an indication of support for selling cheap a piece of land to the Sno-Riders club. Now it turns out that there are some complications. Council should just be honest with the club and say “no chance below market” and “not much chance at all”. And council should in the future avoid making commitments, tacit or direct, that they cannot honour, even if that means not winning the popularity award.
8.22 CAO11-2012 Role of Officers and Employees and Councillors of the Municipality
Council asked for a letter clarifying roles.
The draft letter in the agenda package simply uses the same MAH “guide” as was used in agenda item 8.18.
For reasons provided in my comments about item 8.18, the MOH guide should not be used. The municipality is and should be bound by the Act, not by whatever ministry staff think the Act means. Sections of the Act should be used instead of the guide.
The letter should go back for redrafting.
8.23 CAO12-2012 Timely Information and Analysis
The draft letter fails. It should be sent back for redrafting.
9.3 BOWMAN12-2012 Cancellation of Budget Meetings January 16th and 18th (Referred from February 7, 2012)
Mayor Close, without council approval, and thus contrary to protocol, cancelled two budget meetings. Councillor Bowman is requesting that the Mayor go on record admitting to the error.
A February 2011 press release about the “blog”, a May 2011 press release about the “blog”, a letter to Minister Bartolucci saying sauble septic systems were causing well problems, and several similar statements to the press, were all issued/made without the required formal council support. And at least one other statement/letter that council was not even aware of has gone out to an individual or organization. And who knows how many inappropriate, unauthorized letters will never come to light because of the chill effect of the town’s $700,000 lawsuit.
Good luck Councillor Bowman.
10.6 By-Law 26-2012 A By-Law to Regulate the Use of Properties Located Within the Town of South Bruce Peninsula Relative to Public Nuisance
“Nuisance” is defined but not used in the by-law. If it is not used it needs to be taken out of the definitions section.