Town Council – What’s On The Agenda For December 5?

A Special Council Meeting will be held at 4 pm on December 5; the agenda includes three statutory zoning by-law amendments. Read the full agenda.

The first Regular Council meeting for the new council will then be held at 6 pm when Council will be asked to approve:

  • the proposed 2023 Budget Schedule
  • receive a report and increase the taxi rate
  • issue an RFP for a (here we go again) consultant to lead and facilitate the creation of a Community Based Strategic Plan; and APPROVE an upset limit of $70,000.00 to fund this project, which amount shall be funded from the Contingency Reserve
  • Exempt, one time, Business Licensing By-law 2009-044, Schedule A-58 (Trade Shows) for the Amherstburg Night Market on December 10, 2022 behind 61 Richmond Street
  • two events: Coldest Night and True Fest – January 28, 2023 (road closures for the latter);
  • advertise for lay member positions for the listed Local Boards and Committees
  • appointments to other Boards
  • extend the deadline to renew the current Police Services Contract with Windsor Police to March 31, 2023.
  • the usual Unfinished Business
  • and pass 4 by-laws

Read the full agenda.

New Council Sworn In, Next

New council was sworn in, or sworn at, depending on your perspective, on November 28, 2022.

How will accessibility be prioritized by this group? No masks, no physical distancing, a stage with stairs, Prue’s wish list including we need a heritage district and not a word about accessibility. Really? We need accessible buildings and barriers removed.

Training meetings held all day November 29 and November 30 at town hall should be live streamed like other municipalities. Looks like an in-depth review of all town departments.

Then two Regular meetings are scheduled for December 5 and 12 which I’m guessing will include Bill 23 and hopefully everyone does their homework.

Follow Up Questions New Council Swearing In

Valerie Critchley, CAO, answered my follow up questions:

Q. if the council members have already been sworn in, what is the purpose of the swearing in ceremony november 28 instread of a regular council meeting?

A. The purpose of the formal Inauguration Ceremony is to allow the members of Council to declare their oaths publicly for the purpose of transparency and also to allow the public to be present for this formal ceremony. I would note that this formal event was originally scheduled for December 5, 2022 which would have left only one Regular Council meeting, being December 12, 2022, until the end of the year. We revised the scheduled to have the Inauguration on November 28, 2022 and now have two Regular meetings scheduled for the month of December, on the 5th and the 12th.

Q. would you please send me a copy of the oath that was sworn to?

A. Declaration of Office

Q. would you please provide me with the dates, locations and topics for new council training sessions? thank you.

A. The Council Orientation Sessions are scheduled for November 29th and November 30th and will be held from 8:30am-4:30pm on each day and will take place in Council Chambers at Town Hall.  The Agenda will be publicly available tomorrow and will be posted to the Town’s website.

Windsor Launches Public Budget Simulator Tools

Amherstburg sometimes compares the town to others, like for wage increases, council remuneration, etc., but this would be worthwhile looking into, especially if it involves no sign ins for feedback and it increases transparency, accountability and civic engagement.

Taylor Campbell, The Windsor Star reports, “Ahead of its 2023 budget process, the City of Windsor has launched a new online tool that lets residents share their spending priorities and have a go at balancing the bottom line.”

The article includes links to a budget balancing simulator, tax receipt generator, and public feedback tool.

New Council Make Declarations

Valerie Critchley, CAO, answered my request to provide the members’ names and dates of each of their swearing in:

Mayor Prue – November 8th, 2022
Deputy Mayor Gibb – November 8th, 2022
Councillor Allaire – November 10th, 2022
Councillor Crain – November 10th, 2022
Councillor Pouget – November 10th, 2022
Councillor McArthur – November 14th, 2022
Councillor Courtney – November 15th, 2022

She added, ‘Please note that regardless of the date on which a member makes their declaration of Office the Municipal Act provides that they do not take office until the statutorily appointed date being November 15th.’

However, not all councillors believe that they were sworn in nor will they be until the November 28, 2022 ceremony at the McGregor Columbian Club at 6:00 p.m.

CBC, November 15, reports:

Leamington, Kingsville, Tecumseh and Lakeshore councils hosted inaugural council meetings last night.

The inaugural meeting for the new Essex council  is on Nov. 21.

LaSalle will host its first meeting of the new council on Nov. 22.

The first meeting for Amherstburg’s new council will be held on Nov. 28.

Amherstburg’s website lists the ceremony on November 28 and the regular council meeting on December 5, 2022.

Aiming For Accountability

The following questions were emailed to Amherstburg CAO Valerie Critchley on November 15, who answered on November 16:

i’m writing to request information that i’d like to post to the burg watch blog:

1.   requests for information from candidates and third party advertisers about town services and programs during the 2022 campaign period, without revealing the source of the request, and also responses from administration.

Please file a Freedom of Information Request for this information. The form can be found at: https://www.amherstburg.ca/en/town-hall/resources/licenses-and-forms/MFIPPA-Request-Form.pdf

2.   are completed conflict of information declaration forms available for viewing online?

The Municipality keeps a registry of this information which can be found at:https://www.amherstburg.ca/en/town-hall/declaration-of-interest-registry.aspx . The actual forms which have been completed by the Members of Council can be viewed in person at Town Hall.

3.   when was the official swearing in of new council members held?

Members of Council each swore and signed their individual oaths of office (the signed oath is actually what is required by the Municipal Act)  separately between November 8, 2022 and November 15, 2022. The ceremonial inauguration will take place on November 28, 2022.

I emailed follow up comments and questions on November 16:

  • regarding 1. i’m not requesting any personal information; just the questions asked and answered;
  • 2. wouldn’t it be more accountable and accessible to persons with disabilities for the forms to be attached to the registry for viewing online?
  • 3. would you please provide the members’ names and dates of each of their swearing in?

The Meaning of Ableism

if you’re a regular reader, you know that I persistently advocate for accessibility at every opportunity, despite the pushback, defiance, ignorance, and attitudinal barriers.

During the 2022 municipal election, some statements were concerning because of misinformation. I wondered, do people realize their positions are based on ableism?

An excellent article by Andrew Pulrang, Contributor, Forbes: Words Matter, And It’s Time To Explore The Meaning Of “Ableism.”

Kudos And Questions For New Council Unanswered

Two days after the election, on October 26, 2022, I congratulated all members of the new council and offered kudos to councillors Pouget and Courtney; I did not encounter any barriers during their campaigns to represent their community.

Unfortunately, the remaining 5 created and/or perpetuated barriers for the approximate 5000 Amherstburg residents with disabilities so as a result, I asked:

  • of the accessibility information the town provided to you for your campaign, which did you read?
  • what trainings have you participated in for accessibility legislation, for example, as an employee, volunteer, etc.?
  • how will you fulfill the obligation to remove barriers?

Stratford’s 2021 Code of Silence Award

CBC article reports on Stratford’s honour of being Canada’s “most secretive” municipality in 2021. “There’s a real problem with openness, and transparency and respect for the public.”– Jim Turk, director, Centre for Free Expression.

Turk said the report also shone a light on some the systemic problems when it came to council sharing information with the public and journalists.

“When people made requests for information, the city demanded, in our view, an exorbitant price for supplying it. In the case of one request, they wanted $8,850 to provide the information.”

More in this article from the Stratford Beacon Herald Second report finds Stratford council regularly broke closed-meeting rules.