By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A small shift could mean the public receives access to a lot more behind the scenes interactions between members of council and city staffers.
The new council procedural bylaw, which is receiving its first extensive update since the 1970s, includes a variety of housekeeping measures and esnures the bylaw aligns with council’s current practice. However, one addition to the bylaw could allow for background information, shared between staff and councillors, to be available to the public in an information package that would be published on the city’s website.
The additional info would include follow-up data and information requested by councillors during a council meeting, or updates to members of council on the progress of a certain process or program.
According to the updated bylaw, the additional information could also include correspondence intended simply for council’s information and not related to an item of council or committee business, information relating to delegations, as well as correspondence from other municipalities.
“Many of these changes, I think, come from experience working in other municipalities and surveying to see what other people are doing,” says city clerk Andrew Brouwer.
The additional information will help close a gap in the process between the public and council Brouwer says, as often council will request additional info during a council or committee meeting, and it is then forwarded along at a later date.
“The gap I see in that is the public don’t really get to see that,” Brouwer says. “It makes sense to have some kind of mechanism to post routine updates…then the public has the opportunity to look at it from that end.”
At the current time, Brouwer says the practicalities have yet to be worked out as to the format of the information package, but it would need to be presented in an accessible form on the website.
Among the other changes to the procedural bylaw are updated definitions due to the changes caused by Bill 68 and the removal of the requirement for council to hold a recorded vote when approving the purchase of items over $2,000.
While open for public feedback, the city received very little input from the public on the proposed changes. The final version of the bylaw is set for approval at council’s last meeting of 2017 on Dec. 18.