Puslinch endorses use of electronic delegations to provincial ministers

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch councillors support the use of electronic delegations to provincial ministers or the Ontario premier.

On Jan. 2, councillors supported the concept of the Township of Greater Madawaska to allow provincial ministers to accept electronic delegations. The township is located in the northern section of the Ottawa River Valley.

Madawaska stated its council discussed lobbying the provincial ministers to allow for electronic delegations.

The resolution states, “Council feel that it is unjust to have to attend expensive conferences to be able to have a delegation with ministers or the premier.”

As a result Madawaska asked that the provincial ministers and the premier offer electronic delegations to small and rural municipalities that do not have sufficient budget to attend conferences.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer voiced agreement to the idea.

He said Puslinch is fortunate in its proximity to Queen’s Park in Toronto to meet with provincial officials and to attend conferences.

“As a municipality in that position, it would be nice of us to support a request from a municipality which may not be in that position,” Bulmer said. “I think this is a great idea.”

He was not aware why it is not done already, but said it was worth supporting another municipality wanting to save money and time for its residents.

He said for those municipalities, it can be a considerable expense “for a 15 minute meeting with a minister.”

Councillor John Sepulis offered his support in principle.

However, he also said some guidelines need to be in place to determine what is considered a reasonable versus unreasonable travel distance.

Councillor Jessica Goyda added distance is not always the issue.

She noted that while some councillors were able to attend a recent AMO conference in Ottawa, it was more of a challenge for herself.

Goyda explained it was not just the distance that was an issue, but the availability of childcare.

Therefore for certain conferences council members might not be able to attend, “it would still be nice to have the option of an electronic delegation.”

Mayor James Seeley noted a recent conference call at the township office regarding the Aggregate Resources Act.

“It was very handy and worked well.”

Seeley stated “with today’s technology, as long as you can see them visually and see their reactions, it is pretty much the same as being in person.”

He too agreed with the idea and recommended leaving it up to the province to decide what the cutoff line would be in terms of distance.

Sepulis said he believes the word “unjust” is a bit harsh, which is why he was only prepared to support Madawaska’s resolution in principle.