Rift between two camps on Council was visible earlier this week

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 8th, 2021



There is a level of civility that the members of city council strive to project. There are occasions when the veil gets lowered and a very serious discord reveals itself.

Stolte May 5

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte had to struggle to get her motion on the Council table.

Earlier this week Kelvin Galbraith, Chair of the Standing Committee that was meeting virtually, asked Councillor Nisan to move a motion that was calling for Council to waive a portion of the Procedural Bylaw to allow a motion that Councillor Stolte wanted to put forward.

Stolte had not sent the motion in ahead of time; a series of circumstances prevented her from doing so.

When the Chair asked Councillor Nisan to move the motion, Nisan said he wanted to know what the motion was about – he already knew what it was about but bobbed and weaved and squirmed to avoid moving the motion.

Councillor Kearns stepped up and said she would move the motion.

It is an accepted practice for council colleagues to support each other in moving the business of council smoothly with as little delay as possible.

The motion Councillor Stole wanted to put on the table was to debate the idea of opening up council meetings to the public rather than continue with the virtual process now being used.

There is plenty of room at the Council table for all the members of Council to meet the social distancing rules and there is more than enough space in the Council Chamber for some members (may as few as ten) to sit well spaced apart to listen and take part in the proceedings.

Kevin Arjoon, City Clerk mentioned at the close of the discussion that he had been asked by city manager Tim Commisso to prepare a report for Council on how the meeting might be opened up to the public.

Nisan July5

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

The current city council is split into two camps – one controlled by the Mayor that includes Councillors Galbraith, Nisan and Bentivegna. Nisan is reported to be prepared to follow the Mayor wherever she goes.

Galbraith takes the position that he likes the Mayor and at this point he doesn’t seem to be prepared to confront her.

Galbraith has talked of aspirations to serve as Mayor at some future date.

Bentivegna is growing as a member of Council and he may at some point in the future oppose a position the Mayor has taken.  He’s not there yet.

In the recent past there have been few delegations from people who want to comment on an issue before Council. Doing so virtually is not the same as doing so in person.

Council will begin debating the 2022 budget that has projections of a budget increase of more than 5%.

The matter of the Stolte motion got resolved by putting it on the agenda for the Standing Committee meeting that will take place on Thursday.

Nisan’s behaviour was petty and small.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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9 comments to Rift between two camps on Council was visible earlier this week

  • James

    Goldring, Craven, Dennison, Taylor and Lancaster must be getting a bit of a chuckle over this. Perhaps they weren’t the problem afterall. Meed Ward masterfully spun a wild story and convinced a lot of people to remove the old guard and acquire the chain of command, but the truth is starting to emerge. Interesting too that the mass exodus of staff began after the coronation of the Red Queen. What’s really going on behind the locked doors at city hall that doesn’t make it in to the Mayor’s self-serving press releases? While the weaker Councillors continue to hid under the protection of the Mayor’s shadow, particularly Nisan who seems to relish his role as the Mayor’s yippy lapdog, the stronger Councillors have clearly seen the light. If any one of Kearns, Stolte or Sharman decide to throw their hat in the ring, a second term for the Mayor is no longer a guarantee. And thank the Maker for that!

    • James you have a good understanding of what happened pre-2018 election but like most don’t have the full picture of what transpired particularly with relation to the Burlington New Official Plan. Meed Ward, Halton and Burlington Heads of Legal or the outside legal teams hired to deal with the appeals before LPAT that is now called OLT have not taken the opportunity given to them to dispute the evidence presented to all parties and Minister Clark that the New Burlington Official Plan has never been approved. The Meed Ward “masterfully spun wild story” was followed up with fullfillment of her commitment to blow to pieces the adopted BNOP. A total lack of understanding, of the legislated rules for approving an official plan (along with the rest of Council and Burlington and Halton senior management staff) sees the plan going nowhere since April 26, 2018. When the plan was adopted Goldring and Craven (Chair of the Planning and Development Committee) et al were rightly proud of the money left in the plan budget to take care of the rest of the process. No-one could have envisaged the huge amount of money it has cost us to have BNOP status quo remain exactly as it was on April 26, 2018 with a huge numbr of appellants putting out huge amounts of dollars to appeal a decision that was never made by the only body that could legitimately make it – Halton Region Council – all with the current Burlington Council’s full knowledge as the webcast discussions (not the minutes) clearly show.

      Watch the December 11, 2018 Planning and Development Committee webcast 56.7 – 70 and watch Paul Sharman as Chair ignore Meed Ward and MacDonald discussing issues that were not on the agenda and have never been on the Council agenda as they were required to be in order for a legitimate decision to be made by council in terms of a Halton non decision on the plan The document that was supposed to be before council is found on the Mayor’s social media page – she never forwarded it to council.. All current members of Burlington Council including Paul Sharman who was the veteran councillor have a responsibility in what has happened not just those who publicly support the Mayor. Don’t put yourself up for election if you are not prepared to do your homework in terms of what decisions you can and cannot make.

  • This council has used covid for its own purposes and always will use whatever it can to keep the unlimited power tbey have to operate in a manner that pays no attention to the democratic process transparency or accountabilitu. There has been absolutely no reason for delegations who wish to appear at the lectern can and without the mayor and clerk’s prior review. Time for our MPP and government to step up to the plate in terms of returning the municipal democratic process to what it was.

  • Hans Jacobs

    It might be useful for councilors to remind themselves that their #1 Mission is to do what is best for the City and its citizens. Everything they do should be evaluated using that mission as the prime criterion.

  • Blair Smith

    This will be one of the most telling and significant debates conducted by Council thus far. It will be interesting to see what arguments can be marshalled against opening up the Council chamber (with appropriate restrictions as noted) so that ‘in person’ delegations can be made. For a Council that has characterized itself as “populist” with a strong regard for the voice of the people, it is difficult to conceive of any vote less than 7-0 for the motion. Once again, thank you Councillor Stolte for bringing this forward and Councillor Kearns for supporting the debate.

  • Penny Hersh

    Finally, some of the councillors are stepping up and challenging this mayor.

    For those councillors who feel that politically they are better off siding with the mayor I say – you will be pushed under the bus if need be.

  • Lynn Crosby

    I find this entire thing really concerning. We expect better. Of course Councillor Stolte’s important motion to open up OUR council chamber to the public for transparency should have been easily brought forward and discussed. They can’t hide behind COVID forever, or can they?