When it comes to municipal councils conducting their business, the procedural bylaw is the Holy Grail.
While there are ways to waive the rules of the city’s procedural bylaw, it is not easy, usually requiring a two-thirds vote by council.
Every municipality’s bylaw is different, and there are two apparent flaws in Oshawa’s that Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson recently brought to light.
As it stands, each council member also sits on a number of standing committees. As tradition, Mayor Dan Carter serves as a member of every committee.
Those councillors who are not members of a committee can sit in on the meeting and provide input.
However, they cannot vote or bring forth motions at a meeting.
At the latest meeting of the corporate services committee, Nicholson questioned this rule, stating it essentially creates a tiered system of councillors.
And he is right.
At the Region of Durham, any councillor can bring forth a motion at a committee meeting, and this happens quite often.
So why can’t the same be done at the city? As Nicholson pointed out, the Municipal Act states all council members should have a voice at the committee level.
They shouldn’t be able to vote if they aren’t members, but they should very well be able to contribute an action item without having to first go through council, or try and find a colleague to do so for them.
Another issue brought up by Nicholson was the fact the city clerk’s department currently has the power to decline a delegation or correspondence to council if it relates to possible litigation, employee performances or labour relations.
While it is good for the city to protect itself, The Express agrees with Nicholson that it should be the decision of council as to whether or not they hear or see something.
Our public officials were elected to make such decisions so it only serves to reason that they possess the power to do so.