Civil marriages to be offered at renovated council chamber in Elora

It’s not exactly the chapel of love or Honeymoon in Vegas, but soon municipal staff will be able to offer civil marriage ceremonies in the recently renovated council chamber here.

On July 21, councillors approved a recommendation from Lisa Miller, supervisor of customer service/deputy clerk, authorizing the municipal clerk to perform and designate qualified individuals to perform civil marriage ceremonies in accordance with the Marriage Act.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said the proposal involves the municipality into a new line of business.

“A lot of requests come in from people in our community and people outside our community who are using Centre Wellington as a destination spot,” said Ross-Zuj.

She said with the recent renovations to the chamber, the clerks decided they would like to get into this business.

Miller’s report stated that in 2004, the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services amended the Marriage Act to allow the clerk of a local municipality to solemnize marriages under the authority of a licence.

She added the additional workload can be incurred without additional staff.

Miller noted the township already issues marriage licences and therefore performing civil marriage ceremonies would be complimentary to existing services.

Staff propose to perform the civil ceremonies in the council chamber on Thursday and Friday afternoons between the hours of 1 and 4pm or on Friday afternoons at Victoria Park in Elora between 1 and 4pm by appointment only.

In the event of a request for an after-hours or off-site ceremony, it would be booked at the discretion of the clerk or designate.

Ceremonies will be performed by the municipal clerk and the deputy clerk.

Staff recommend a fee of $200 be charged for ceremonies performed in the council chamber, $250 be charged for ceremonies performed at Victoria Park in Elora and $350 be charged for any ceremony performed after hours or at a location other than those specified.

In the event witnesses are required by the couple, this service will also be provided for $25 per witness and only when the ceremony is performed in the council chamber.

These fees are comparable to those being charged by other municipalities providing the service, Miller said.

Councillor Kelly Linton wanted to ensure this work could be done with existing staff. Linton said a number of municipalities have discovered the service can take longer than anticipated.

Clerk Kerri O’Kane said staff are committed to doing this.

“We have a complement of people who are cross-trained and there will be two of us who can do this,” she said.

“We feel this is an important service and a great opportunity to generate some revenue.”

O’Kane added, “Staff already issue marriage licenses … why not the civil service?”