What a crock - whatever the reason the Mayor's explanation didn't pass the smell test

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2024



Mayor Meed Ward made a structural change to the way council meeting are run – no clear reason why – the explanation she gives what a crock.

Mayor Meed Ward once spoke of the 17 platforms she has to reach the public.  Add in the photo – ops and you have a well exposed politician with great reach into the community.

In her Mail Bag platform she posed the following question:


“Three Burlington standing committees were merged into a single Committee of the Whole – why the change?”

Her answer was about as self serving as it could get and nowhere near the truth.

Why Mayor Meed Ward Merged the Standing Committees into the Committee of the Whole she created is something we don’t have an answer for.  It was something she was able to do given the Strong Mayor powers that were given to many Mayors last July.

The Mayor maintains the City of Burlington’s Committee of the Whole meeting is part of a new standing committee structure intended to help streamline Council business.

The change does not streamline the structure; if anything it makes the process awkward and leaves the Chairs of the Standing Committees look like bumbling idiots as they figure out where they are supposed to sit.

The Chair of a Committee sits in the seat intended for the person leading the meeting.

Committee of the Whole is chaired by the Mayor who opens the meeting and closes the meeting.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns taking her seat as Chair of a Standing Committee, while a committee staffer (on the left) removes her name plate. This is stream-lined?

The three previous standing committees: the Community Planning, Regulation, and Mobility (CPRM) Committee; the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk, and Accountability (CSSRA) Committee; and the Environment, Infrastructure, and Community Services (EICS) Committee are now tucked into the Committee of the Whole but doing exactly what they did previously.

Meed Ward explains that the Committee of the Whole meetings will be comprised of distinct sections reflecting the previous three standing committees.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will open the meeting, oversee any delegations, complete all consent items, and then pass the gavel to the Councillors who continue to serve as Chairs of the segments of the meeting dealing with CSSRA, CPRM and EICS regular agenda items.

True enough but before the gavel can be passed the “room has to be reset”, which means the person serving as the Chair has to move from their seat to the Chair position while the Committee Clerk moves the name plates that identify members of Council and senior staff.

Mayor gets to sit beside the City Manager during the Standing Committee part of Committee of the Whole meetings.

The Mayor has to find a seat for herself – to date she has chosen to sit beside the City Manager.

The A/V people have to reset the software that records the meetings and allows for the projection of reports and illustrations that are part of every meeting onto the several large screens set up in the Council Chamber..  The software the city uses for its hybrid meeting approach never seems to be up to the challenge – but that is another issue.

There is nothing streamlined about Rory Nisan leaving his council seat with papers, cell phone and coffee cup in hand and making his way to the Chair seat while the Committee moves his name plate to where he is now sitting.  Same thing happens to each of the Standing Committee Chairs.

There appears to be a reason for the change.  The explanation the Mayors gives doesn’t make the reason clear.

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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1 comment to What a crock – whatever the reason the Mayor’s explanation didn’t pass the smell test

  • David

    Have you ever played Monopoly with a group. All the players believe they know the rules but the game is held up constantly by rule challenges and the reading and interpretation of the games actual rules.
    Even after the rules have been accepted a faction of the group always wants to amend the rules so that the ones in the group that are not doing so well can experience some level of winning or losing while making that faction feel better about themselves
    The actual point of the game becomes pointless with nobody experiencing any level of winning or losing.
    I’ve never liked the idea of changing any rules to reach any outcome, it’s messy, lacks thought and wisdom and is detrimental to a societies growth.
    As individuals we all break or bend the rules occasionally but as a society it is our rules that guide us, governments at all levels should set an example