Have “Amalgamation” Talks Begun Behind Closed Doors?
Regarding Tiny Agenda item: Administration & Finance, item “d”: “Draft Recommendation re: Proposed Joint Special Closed Session Meeting of the North Simcoe Councils for Education and Training Purposes / Provincial Growth Plan 2017”
I made the following comments during Tiny’s October 30, 2017 Committee of the Whole Meeting:
My first concern is why for “Education and Training Purposes”, Tiny Council would deem it necessary to go into “Closed Session”. Council Members go to Meetings that have an “Educational and Training Purpose” all the time. The Public is not invited to these Meetings and that is accepted as “No Municipal Business is being advanced”.
The recommendation states that this joint Special Closed Session Meeting is held pursuant to Section 239 of the Municipal Act, 2001, etc. Unless the Legislation has changed and the available information on the Internet hasn’t caught up yet, Section 239 makes no references to “Education and Training Purposes” being a valid reason to go in “Closed Session” for as Closed Meetings only serve one purpose. That is, “to advance Business of the Municipality”.
The “Provincial Growth Plan 2017” component than becomes the driving line and the reason to hold the meeting may be better fitted under part (k) of the Exceptions that reads: “a position, plan, procedure, criteria or instruction to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of the municipality or local board.”
Or perhaps part (h) of the Exceptions that reads: “information explicitly supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board by Canada, a province or territory or a Crown agency of any of them”
Regardless, neither refer to or are “Education and Training Purposes” related.
The lack of substantial information about the meeting and the rush with which this approval to proceed with the joint meeting is sought, tells me that the objective of this meeting is to significantly move some Municipal business related to the Provincial Growth Plan of 2017 forward.
Rumours that the CAO’s and Chief Planners of the 4 Municipalities have been meeting on the Growth Plan have been circulating in North Simcoe for a while. I almost hate to use the word, but “amalgamation” is a word that increasingly surfaces as well regarding these rumours. Remember that an “amalgamation question for North Simcoe” was asked to every Municipal candidate during the 2014 Municipal Election, EXCEPT during the “All Candidate’s Meeting” in Tiny. I know, I attended those meetings in Penetanguishene, Midland and Tay and participated in the one’s that were held in Tiny. Perhaps the question wasn’t asked in Tiny, as Tiny would have the most to lose. Tiny continues to lose the most should a North Simcoe amalgamation process proceed.
I challenge Council to be fully transparent in regard to this proposed meeting and to proceed carefully. Depending on the real objective of the meeting, (from my perspective, “Education and Training” certainly isn’t it!) conflict of interest and collusion concerns may arise down the road. These concerns increase as the Mayor of Penetanguishene, who also is the Simcoe County Warden and who is now the Provincial Liberal’s Candidate in the next provincial Election as well, is one and the same person. No doubt, significant Provincial bonus points would go Mr. Marshall’s way should he be able to deliver peace to the Province on the unresolved North Simcoe Growth Plan issues.
Thank you for the opportunity to present my thoughts. Any questions?
There were no questions. During the discussion of the subject, No amalgamation comments came up. I did learn that the Planners of the Four Municipalities have a standing quarterly meeting together. During their last meeting, the Township’s CAO’s were invited to attend, which may have been the event that initiated the start of rumours.
Tiny’s Council Members questioned the need for this meeting to go into “closed session”. After discussion, the motion was changed to reflect the fact that Tiny wishes to discuss the outcome of the meeting in a Public manner during a subsequent local Council meeting. The modified motion was passed 3-1. Councillor Hinton voted against the motion.
The motion still reads that Tiny Council has agreed that “the Town of Midland will be the governing procedural by-law for the joint Special Closed Session Meeting” and “That the Clerk of the Town of Midland will be the Clerk for the joint Special Closed Session Meeting”.
If Tiny’s modified motion is not accepted by Midland’s Clerk, which I expect will be the case, what are the Tiny Council members and staff who plan on attending this meeting, going to do? Walk out of the meeting as they should since they cannot keep their word to Tiny’s taxpayers? Or will they attend the meeting and see where the chips fall?
The matter will come up for ratification this evening and I will speak to the matter again.
Tiny Council just decided to NOT attend the joint meeting if the meeting will be held in closed session!
Dick Wesselo – Dick’s Tiny Corner