The proposed changes to the existing Council Proceedings Procedural Bylaw have us concerned that these changes further restrict the voices of Cobourg residents. We ask all our supporters to attend the public meeting tentatively scheduled for January 28, 2019 to make their voices heard. Please make sure our new Councillors are clear on the wishes of the people.
The agenda for the first meeting of our new Council has been posted on civicweb.net. A major portion is a proposed 59-page revision to the existing Procedural Bylaw. Among the many changes (or non-changes) are:
- Q&A – during the recent municipal election, a majority of candidates said they were in favour of Question and Answer period and yet there is NO mention of it.
- Quarterly 1-hour “open forum” after COW – its purpose is to allow residents to ask questions or make comments. Staff are not required to attend. The forum will be at the end of the COW meeting. We do not understand the point of this. It may have its place as a town meeting to create new discussion; however, it does not address the issue of timeliness. Indeed – issues being discussed may be 3 months old or a “done deal”.
- Maximum of 4 delegations per meeting regardless of subject matter or importance. We believe this to be overly restrictive. The majority of the time there are less than 4 delegations. For something controversial – like the recent Waterfront Plan – 10+ delegations made the point to Council that citizens were opposed to the direction in which staff and council were moving.
- Meetings will be from 4-8 pm and a 2/3 majority will be required to make any changes.
- Delegates cannot present to both the COW meeting and the subsequent Council meeting unless substantial new information is presented.
- Councillors cannot question Staff regarding points made in a delegation.
- The Town Clerk will now have the authority to decide what delegations are made and when. This should be Council’s decision and not a staff decision.
Most candidates’ election promises centred on more public engagement -including a Question and Answer Period for the public. This proposal is not in keeping with Councillors’ stated objective during the election campaign. It is not even close.
Citizens should be outraged that these type of proposals would even be considered.
This new Council needs to show everyone that these type of restrictions are not acceptable to the people. We call on them to reject the proposed changes; i.e. “not to receive them for information purposes.”
It is time to move forward, not backwards.