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Was it legal? They think it is and no one is going to challenge them on the matter.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 29th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I’m reading about the vote on the OP; was the Special meeting of Council made known to the public?; asked a loyal Gazette reader.

Well it was and it wasn’t made known to the public that a public meeting was to take place? Could it be null and void? asked our reader.

Probably not.

Here is what happened. Our source is ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and the procedural bylaw.
Meed Ward advises that: “The process to set a special council meeting is to poll council members. This was done weeks ago electronically by e-vote; I did not support it but enough of council did.

“The special council meeting was duly scheduled and advertised as being “immediately after the committee meeting” – so no clear start time.

“As it turned out, committee extended to Thursday morning – that hadn’t been scheduled, just the Wednesday session. Then the special council meeting was to follow.

“So, residents didn’t know about either the committee meeting extending to Thursday or the special council afterward unless they were in attendance or watching the live feed (the video of the meetings is not posted till a day or two later).

Meed Ward H&S

Councillor Meed Ward – did not support holding a Special Meeting of Council immediately after a Standing Committee meeting.

Meed Ward said she “ didn’t have the Thursday extended committee meeting time booked in my calendar. It was scheduled late afternoon on Wednesday.”

“Technically, one could argue the process to call the special council meeting was followed, but it left the public shut out.

Meed Ward said she “ tried to bring a motion to council to refer the council meeting to Monday, a scheduled committee meeting time, but could not get a seconder in advance to put it on the floor.”
Mayor Goldring always make a point of telling the watching audience how many hours each Standing Committee spent and he explains how many bylaws were passed.

On a critical thing like public engagement on the most important piece of legislation this council has passed (technically all they did was approve it) the public was shut out.  Deliberately?

It would have been a small matter for anyone with a real sense democracy to have explained to the audience that was in council chambers and those watching the web cast that a motion to waive the required time between the calling of a council meeting and the holding of that meeting had been waived. It was done electronically directly between the Mayor and the members of council – the public didn’t get to see the vote take place.

Not sure how legal that is – matters not; there isn’t a lawyer in town prepared to hustle up to the County Court and ask for a ruling.

Comm-Eng-June-12-Mayor-bored-835x1024

Mayor Goldring at a community engagement meeting.

As for the Mayor and that Special Council meeting – he was too busy handing out proclamations – some of those who were to be given their proclamation didn’t bother to show up.

Let’s see what the readers think.

Meed War’s closing comment on this was: “Not a great day for democracy. Calling out the small number of residents in attendance that morning added insult to injury. If this had been held at the regular council meeting in May, or even at the scheduled committee meeting on Monday, April 30 residents would have filled the room and the podium – because they would have known it was coming and could plan to be there.”

Crowd

Mayor Goldring handed out Proclamations during a council meeting with a packed council chamber c

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12 comments to Was it legal? They think it is and no one is going to challenge them on the matter.

  • Dennis walker

    Thanks Penny good idea.
    Done !
    A deeply flawed process and outcome .
    Jim Youngs recent articulate appraisal of how this took place needs to be widely disseminated.

  • Joseph Gaetan

    A good place to start would be the Municipal Act 2001 which in part states, Changes made to the Municipal Act, 2001, ensure that meetings held by municipal councils and local boards must reflect openness and transparency even if they are closed to the public. All meetings, including closed meetings, are subject to procedural rules. For example, public notice must be given of upcoming meetings and records must be kept of all meetings.
    Any citizen can request an investigation to determine whether a municipality or local board is following the rules on open and closed meetings.

  • Jim Young

    I’m with Tom Muir on this one. Do we have the will to challenge them in law? If we say yes, how do we go about that.
    On the surface, Burlington City Council look extremely devious and underhanded, but when you look at them realistically, they are actually much worse than that. Beyond a Joke.

  • S smith

    I have sent my concerns to Gary Carr hopefully everyone else can do the same

  • Penny

    The question is – will residents take this seriously and send emails or call Gary Carr at the Region, or simply “talk amongst themselves”

    Public involvement can make a difference. The Region needs to wait until a new Council is elected prior to accepting this adopted new Official Plan. It seems that one of the reasons to pass this now is to make it more difficult for a new council to make changes to this flawed version of an Official Plan. A new Councils first meeting will be in December.

    The current council should not have the ability to handcuff the new administration.

    Take the time to email GARY CARR at gary.carr@halton.ca or call 905-825-6000

    An e-vote where the majority of Council decided basically not to let the public know exactly when the vote to adopt the official plan (especially since it was so contentious ) would take place is not the way that a City should engage its residents.

    • Phillip

      Penny, I have already sent an email to Gary–thanks for the suggestion. The only positive to come out of this undemocratic fiasco is it reveals how unprincipled the mayor, council and their bureaucratic-enablers are–terrific material to use in campaigning against them in this fall’s election.

  • George

    Loosely quoting and remembering Madame Defarge in The Tale of Two Cities:

    “Off with their heads!”

  • Tom Muir

    At city hall, you can’t tell what’s playing without a program.

    I thought the Planning Act states that there must be a program for all public meetings of Committee and Council, especially when development related decisions are being made.

    There was no specified program for the special Council meeting. I could not find out when it was, as it was not scheduled for any specific time.

    How does this work as a functioning legal process that just isn’t manipulated to exclude the residents from knowing when the final decision is to be made, and therefore no delegation time of 5 minutes at Council?

    This is just government by fiat. But apparently, we have no legal cojones, ergo, courage, out there in town to challenge this.

    What a double-dealing bunch of politicians and senior staff we have to pull this off. They could have done this right, by the book, as the story indicates, but no, respect for residents went down the drain long ago.

    They all profess innocence and best intentions to cover their deeds, but these are just self-serving words of denial as far as I can see.

    Residents, be off with thee!

  • Susie

    This slippery, slimy manoeuvring offers no respect to the electorates, and certainly does not fit our so-called democratic life style that we profess exists. Having pride in what you are doing, how you are doing it, and for whom you are doing it, should sit somewhere in the conscience of their minds – OR NOT???

  • craig gardner

    Would it have made any difference to the final result if meeting delayed till April 30?

    • Joseph Gaetan

      Probably not, but it would have given the illusion of being democratic, if you care a hoot about democracy.Do you?