Proposed Procedural By-law Flawed

The town’s proposed procedural by-law was deferred to September 8 from the August 11 council meeting due to time restrictions, according to Ms. Parker; I could not locate the by-law on the September 8 agenda but there is a link from the town’s website, of course, to an external link

In an earlier post, Public Input Not Welcome? I mentioned Phipps’ stated, “There was no notice to the public regarding the draft Procedural By-law. Incidentally, there is no requirement for notice.”

Despite input not being sought, I am submitting my opinion to the current council, not as the Chair of the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee, but as a ratepayer and individual with a disability. To summarize my concerns:

  • The document is difficult to navigate; there is no index and the numbering system deviates from the traditional numbering of legislation: sections, subsections, paragraphs, subparagraphs, clauses, subclauses, schedules, appendices or forms.
  • The place of meetings is not listed contrary to the Municipal Act.
  • The proposed definition of committee conflicts with the Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act 2005
  • “special meeting” is defined, but “meeting” should be since it is titled a By-law to govern the proceedings of Council, the conduct of its members and the calling of meetings.
  • I object to the latter portion of the proposed “Special Meeting” definition: “Special Meeting” means a meeting not scheduled in accordance with the approved calendar/schedule of meetings; and further includes any meeting of Council called prior to the regular session of Council at every regularly scheduled meeting. This is not in keeping with accountability, transparency and notices to the public of meetings.
  • I would question why the town’s procedural by-law would exceed S. 240 (Mayor or Clerk) and include “the CAO may, at any time, summon a special meeting.”
  • Regarding Special In-Camera Council Meetings: the discretionary and mandatory exceptions to public meetings needs to be noted since “may be held” and “shall be held” in camera have disparate meanings and are set out in the Act.
  • Public Notice of Meetings does not state dates and times of notices on the town’s website, just that agendas with attachments will be available on the town’s website; however, one must navigate through a series of links and it is not verified that the available documents, once located, are accessible. There is no reason whatsoever for not posting the agenda on the actual website.
  • Council needs to consider persons with disabilities when setting rules for delegates; for example, insisting that everyone provide the Clerk with written material poses a barrier as defined in Section 2 of the Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act: “barrier” means anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice; (“obstacle”).
  • Why is there a need to state the Clerk and/or CAO may refuse or defer the delegation based on the subject matter to be presented? Is this not contrary to open government, transparency and accountability?

Commentary by Linda Saxon