DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: In a surprising turn of events, Scugog council members, who hold the Council Liaison position on advisory committees, will still not have voting rights on those advisory committees, despite council debating several motions on the matter.
At a meeting on Monday, January 15th, Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett brought up a notice of motion to reconsider a decision made by council on October 2nd, which was, effective January 1st, 2018, “the Council Liaison position not have voting rights on any Advisory committee, save and except the Healthy Lake Scugog Steering Committee.” Councillor Kett’s motion was to give the council liaison position voting rights “on any advisory committee, working group and sub–committee.”
“After careful study of a number of the municipalities in Durham Region, everybody votes on all committees. I just thought that we should be voting. It could be detrimental to a number of the committees that we are on, and that’s the way I feel,” Councillor Kett said.
Township Clerk J.P. Newman responded, explaining that Pickering council liaisons don’t have voting rights on committees.
“What you will find with those townships that do have voting rights, they only have one appointed council liaison on each of those committees,” Mr. Newman added. “I’m not against councillors having voting rights, but I think the difference is when you have up to three councillors voting on the same advisory committee, you lose that citizen input.”
As well, Mr. Newman called council’s decision in October, to keep the number of councillors on advisory committees the same, while removing their voting rights, a “good compromise.”
Mr. Newman said the process, to make the change to give councillors back their voting rights on committees, would involve a lot of staff work, including changing the bylaws, the terms of reference for the committees, and adding additional citizen appointments on those committees.
Mayor Tom Rowett reminded councillors that these are citizen committees.
“They are providing us citizen input, and we have our opportunity to debate and vote on the issues and items that are recommended to us. If we have two or three councillors on those advisory committees, and they’ve already voted on it and it comes here, it seems to be taking away, in my opinion, from the citizen input,” he said.
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew asked the clerk how many times council has debated this issue.
“I believe this is the fourth or fifth time,” Mr. Newman said.
Councillor Kett argued that councillors are the “voice of the community” and said taking away councillors’ voting rights on these committees is “taking the voice away from the community.”
However, Councillor Kett was not able to find enough support around the council table to pass his motion.
Then, Councillor Back made a motion to have one voting council member on each advisory committee, and for those committees with multiple council members, the decision on which one would be the voting member would be decided by council.
But, Councillor Drew said council should live with the decision they made in October, and said if it doesn’t work it can be revisited by the next term of council.
Councillor Back’s motion was later defeated. Then council votedon the original motion that council previously passed, but it too did not see enough council support.
However, after an hour-long recess, there was no further discussion on the subject, so since there was no direction to staff to make any changes, council’s decision from October stood.
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