Council here has decided to hold additional meetings to look at the larger issues the town faces.
Councillor Matt Sammut brought the motion forward at the Feb. 3 meeting with a passionate speech about why the town’s core problems need to be addressed but aren’t making it on to regular meeting agendas.
“[At] these [regular] meetings, unfortunately, we really can’t get to the core strategic initiatives that we should be looking at as a council,” he said. He continued to say that those special meetings should be addressing issues like fiscal long-term sustainability, growth, water, wastewater and economic development.
He explained that the areas that should be examined would be determined in the first few meetings.
“The initial ones would be specifically to determine what are the core things that we want to achieve in the next 12 months, 24 months and throughout the term of council,” Sammut said. “If we have those in mind we will be able to set forth a specific action plan upon how to achieve them.”
Procedural bylaw state that no more than two councillors can meet without calling a special meeting so it can be challenging to look at matters in an in depth way, he continued. These special meetings are a way to overcome the hurdle.
Town clerk Dina Lundy brought up the procedural bylaw that said council can call special meetings at any time to discuss anything they want.
“It doesn’t need to be a resolution to say you’re committing to anything,” she explained.
“If you need a special meeting the mayor can call one; three councillors can get together and tell me they want a special meeting for this purpose at any time,” she said.
However, council was adamant that a resolution be passed to show commitment.
“I think it’s important as a resolution or a resolve of council that we address this and talk about calling a series of special meetings specifically for this purpose,” councillor John Brennan said.
Councillor Jeff Duncan agreed, saying, “I think that the point really in the resolution is trying to demonstrate that we’re trying to be committed to moving things forward on the bigger ticket items.”
Councillor Rob Smith supported more meetings.
However, council faced some opposition from Bob Cheetham, economic development coordinator for the town. He said he is putting together four task forces of citizens to look at those issues from a bottom-up approach.
“Many of those strategic items will be addressed in those specific task forces, so I want to preempt what we want our municipality and our citizens to do in the flow of information … I just want to caution you that you don’t want to add two things going side by side and confusing your community,” he said. “I would only ask you to let us do that, and where there’s specific meetings required, by all means do that but let the task force do their job.”
Sammut responded saying he hopes it will be more of a side-by-side effort.
Council passed the motion and hopes to begin strategic meetings once the budget process is complete.