City Clerk opens the kimono just a little and lets you see how Council voted on recorded votes.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 15, 20-15


It is a step – a baby step but everything has to start somewhere.

A note from the Clerks department to the Mayor and Members of Council.

“We are happy to inform you that the Clerk’s department has posted a link to the tracking of all recorded votes taken at Council. We will update this document after each Council meeting.

“The tracking covers all recorded votes taken at Council in 2014 and 2015 to date.”

Sounds good – but is isn’t as good as it sounds. What the Clerk’s office is doing is posting the results of just the recorded votes.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

The diva of recorded votes in Burlington is ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. Here she is the lone person voting against an issue

A recorded vote takes place when any member of Council asks that the vote about to take place be recorded which means every member of Council is polled by the Clerk and they have to stand until the count is complete.

Most of the votes at city council meetings are not recorded – all the public gets to know from the minutes is how the vote went – that how many voted for the motion and how many voted against.

It is worse than that though. In Burlington every issue goes to one of the three Standing Committee: Development and Infrastructure and Community and Corporate Services. There is also a Committee of the Whole that tends to operate in a worship style.

Everything done at the Standing Committee level has to go to Council for the vote that results in a bylaw. The serious debate takes place at the Standing Committee level – it is at this level that the public gets to see who had what to say and how Council members voted. Those votes are not even written down.

A council member who voted for an issue can change their vote at the City Council meeting and that indeed has happened. When bike lanes on Lakeshore Road were being debated at the Standing Committee level Mayor Goldring was for them. When the matter got to city council the Mayor voted against the motion.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a member of council changing their mind – the public however does have a right to know why they changed their mind – did new information become available or did vested interests lean on the member of Council.

The Halton District school Board has an automatic voting system – whenever there is a vote all the trustee does is press a button and in seconds the result of the vote shows up on a screen and is part of the public record.

Burlington’s city council is not there yet. The voters will probably have to embarrass them into letting the people who put them in office know what they did while there.

For those interested in how recorded votes went in 2014 and so far in 2015 – click on the link.

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