The township’s new procedural bylaw first came to council for approval on Feb. 12, and has since been thrice delayed, with the latest delay coming last week.
On April 8 councillor Mike Downey wanted to know why a section of the bylaw – stating 24 hours notice be provided for special meetings – was removed from the newest version presented to council.
“We’re going backwards,” Downey said of removing the statement about 24-hour notice.
Clerk Patty Sinnamon replied there is a provision about 24-hour notice in a previous version of the bylaw, but that applied to councillors only. Furthermore, she said, extensive details about notice are included in the township’s notice of provision bylaw – a separate document from the procedural bylaw.
But Downey contended the statement about 24-hour notice should be included in the procedural bylaw. He noted that if the township can provide a day’s notice for councillors, it should be able to do the same for the public on the township’s website.
Sinnamon said the Municipal Act states the mayor and clerk can call a special meeting at any time. Downey disagreed, and said, “As a councillor, I want notice.”
Sinnamon said councillors will indeed get notice, but it may not be 24 hours, to which Downey replied, “That’s bad business.”
After some back and forth comments between Sinnamon and Downey, Mayor John Green asked what council wanted to do with the procedural bylaw before them.
Councillor Jim Curry said he agreed with Downey, and he, too, wants the section about 24 hours of notice put back in the bylaw.
Sinnamon agreed to reinsert that section, and pursuant to another comment from Downey, also said she would alter the notice provision bylaw to include a clear distinction between “special” and “emergency” meetings in that document.
As a result of those changes, both the procedural and the notice provision bylaws were again delayed. It is expected the documents will come back to council for final approval on April 22.
After last week’s meeting, Downey said he’s not deliberately trying to delay the procedural bylaw – he just wants to get it right because it is one of the most important bylaws a municipality can have.
Downey mentioned it is not right that residents and members of the press are often not given adequate notice – or in many cases, none at all – of special meetings.
The township website (www.mapleton.ca) is not changed often even for regular meetings. Often the most recent agendas on the website are outdated by weeks, if not months.