New procedural bylaw for township delayed once again

The township’s new procedural bylaw has been delayed again, this time at least until March 25.
At the council meeting last week, Clerk Patty Sinnamon outlined the revisions to the bylaw, which were the result of concerns raised last month by councillor Mike Downey, who also objected to the bylaw be­cause it would eliminate com­mittee of the whole meetings in favour of an additional regular council meeting.
One of the revisions chang­ed the definition of a vote ab­stention, from an affirmative vote to a negative one, in keeping with the county’s procedural bylaw, as well as Bourinot’s Rules of Order and the Muni­cipal Act.
Also, specifics about notice provision were removed from the procedural bylaw because they are already included in the township’s notice bylaw.
But another suggestion made by Downey – using Rob­erts rules of Order instead of Bourinot’s Rules of Order as the primary set of accessory rules – was not supported by the clerk.
“Bourinot’s is widely considered to be the Canadian version of rules of procedure,” Sinnamon said, adding the county uses those rules, as does the Canadian House of Com­mons.
But Downey was not convinced.
He said he understands why the House of Commons uses Bourinot’s rules – because they often refer to “the speaker” – but he is not sure why the county insists on using them.
Sinnamon said it may be a moot issue anyhow because in ten years the township has nev­er had to refer to Bourinot’s.
In fact, Bourinot was a Canadian and Roberts wrote his rules of procedure in the United States.
Mayor John Green said the only issue he had with Bour­inot’s is the abstention from a vote definition.
Downey then turned his attention to the section of the revised procedural bylaw that states the clerk shall provide notice of meetings in accordance with Section 251 of the Municipal Act.
He argued that Bill 130, an amendment to the Municipal Act, effectively repealed Sec­tion 251 in 2006, and wondered why it was in the bylaw.
Sinnamon said perhaps the reference to Section 251 should be removed from both the procedural and notice of provision bylaws.
Downey then questioned the need for both a procedural bylaw and notice bylaw.
Sinnamon explained the procedural bylaw deals only with council meetings, while the notice bylaw also addresses notice provision for amending the budget, changing fees, and other items.
She said she has talked to officials from the county and also from the Ministry of Muni­cipal Affairs, and, “There’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing.”
Downey asked where the notice requirements for special meetings can be found.
“[Residents] should have the respect of having that available to them,” he said.
Sinnamon replied the procedural bylaw does not address the issue, and the notice bylaw may have to be amended to include the details.
But if council passed the procedural bylaw, there would be nothing brought up to date in the notice bylaw in the meantime, Downey said.
 Green said that it would be that way just for two weeks, until the next council meeting.
In the meantime, Sinnamon added, the township would use the stipulation that the clerk and mayor can call a meeting at any time they feel there is an urgent issue.
Downey said that stipulation is often abused, which is why there has been a recent call for more transparency in every level of government.
Downey said he also took issue with the fact that hardly anyone in the township is currently receiving proper notice about special meetings, and he specifically men­tioned the Feb. 21 special meeting, which was the first time that council had an opportunity to look at its draft budget. That meeting also covered other issues such as interim taxes and a temporary borrowing bylaw. Council also did the site plan approval for the Drayton library.
 Downey said the township website ( is the best tool available to get the word out to people in time, but it is not getting new notices often enough.
Sinnamon said she will try to ensure the website is brought up to date as often as possible.
Considering the issues rais­ed by Downey, Green asked councillors if they would rather defer the procedural bylaw until March 25, when both that bylaw as well as the notice bylaw can be brought back for amendments and approval at the same time.
Council agreed that may be the best approach and voted unanimously to defer the procedural bylaw.
Councillor Jim Curry was absent.