Economic Development Advisory Committee

Town council considering eliminating two committees, combining two others

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A motion to combine the parks committee with the recreation and culture committee as well to eliminate the economic development committee and audit and finance committee has failed.

However, it doesn’t appear the issue is dead.

The motion lost thanks to a tie vote at the most recent meeting of town council with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo voting in favour along with councillors Rick Fryer and Diane Pouget. Opposing the motion were Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Leo Meloche and Joan Courtney.

Councillor Jason Lavigne was not in attendance at the July 10 meeting.

The issue may be brought back for a reconsideration at a future meeting.

In a report to town council, clerk Paula Parker said her department was directed by CAO John Miceli to attend most committee and board meetings in 2016 to “for the purpose of providing procedural advice and to assess and address committee inconsistencies.”

Among the concerns they noted were that agendas were not posted to meet notice requirements as per the town’s approved procedural by-law, agenda templates are not consistent, agendas are not being published with supporting materials, chairs tend make motions, chairs tend to lead the meeting, there is no disclosure of pecuniary interest asked at the start of meetings, procedural rules are not being followed for delegates, no deferral motions, motions are too vague, minutes are not recorded as per Municipal Act requirements, minute templates are not consistent and recommendations/reports to council are inconsistent.

“The recent amendments to the Municipal Act add additional requirements and limitations to committees of council, if these concerns are not addressed, the town will be non-compliant with the Municipal Act and possibly the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act,” Parker stated in her report.

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Training was conducted for committee chairs in March 2017 but concerns were raised that they volunteer their time and should not have the same knowledge of the Municipal Act as the clerk’s department.

Staff liaisons were also provided additional training.

The staff liaison is now required to understand and follow parliamentary procedure and its supporting legislation. It is important to note that the clerk’s department has specialized knowledge in this area and is current with all legislative changes, the clerk is also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all procedural rules and legislation are followed at all times. With this said, it is difficult to expect all staff members of the administrative team to know all the nuances of this specific task and as a result increases the potential risk of non-compliance,” Parker added in her report.

Parker said information was requested from the staff liaisons with respect to the function of each committee in preparation of her report that went before town council July 10. Some concerns that were brought forward include cancellation of meetings due to difficulties achieving quorum, absence of council representation, cancellation of meetings due to failure to meet notice requirements, committees moving motions that do not comply with their mandate, committees moving motions to eliminate portions of their council adopted mandate, committees challenging council decisions and committees supporting initiatives that require additional staff time that is not available within the time allotted recently by council.

Pouget said people on the committees work hard and try to give the best advice they can to council. She was concerned about whether committee members had been notified.

Meloche questioned whether town council has worked with its committees enough.

“I don’t think council has really engaged the committees,” he said, adding he believes there has been some “disconnect” between council and the committees.

Meloche didn’t object to dissolving the audit and finance committee, noting it is difficult to get a quorum for those meetings, nor did he oppose combining the the recreation and culture committee with the parks committee. He did not want to see the economic committee meeting be disbanded, noting they meet regularly and try to further economic development in the town.

DiCarlo called it “an issue of resources for the town” and that the recommendation to dissolve the committees was not personal against the committee members.

“Administration is also having a pretty tough time keeping up,” said the mayor.

DiCarlo added after the meeting he didn’t recall the Deloitte report saying the town had to have the audit and finance and economic development committees, believing the report gave guidance on what to do and what the town should be doing. He said the town is now moving in the right direction and that momentum could be continued without the committees.

“As much as we brought the committees in to move the town forward with accountability and transparency, I think we’ve achieved that in a lot of areas,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo reiterated concerns over resources and quorum, noting there are no “extra bodies” in the clerk’s department.

Economic development advisory committee chair Bob Rozankovic said that committee has only had one instance in three years where they failed to have quorum and that it is run well in terms of policy and procedures.

“The sword of Damocles still hangs over our heads,” Rozankovic said after the meeting.

Rozankovic believes there are certain council members who don’t like the committee and the issue of dissolving the committee “is somewhat of a petulant reaction” by those members.

“We’ve challenged them and, personally, I don’t think they like that.”

Council approves 14-day extension for Rotary Ribfest signs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Rotary Club’s Ribfest will get 28 days to display signs after all.

After originally being turned down a month ago, town council did an about face and voted 5-1 to allow a 14-day extension for Ribfest signs. Instead of the ten signs the Rotary Club has for Ribfest going up for 14 days, they will now go up for 28 days.

A delegation request from economic development advisory committee chair Bob Rozankovic was refused, with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo citing information learned at an in-camera training session about already having dealt with the matter as the reason. However, council waived rules of order and Councillor Leo Meloche made the motion to allow the extension.

Meloche said the Rotary Club has been “very good to the community” and that they bring value to the community. He said council regularly grants variances and similar requests and believed there was a “humanitarian aspect” that had to be considered in the Ribfest’s case.

Councillor Rick Fryer wanted administration to study what other municipalities do and how long they allow similar signage. He said there was “no slight to Rotary” but if every group were to have the bylaw waived, there was no point to having a bylaw.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

“We do have obligations we do need to adhere to,” said Fryer.

Fryer said he ultimately voted in favour of the request due to timing issues, as there wouldn’t be enough time this year for administration to bring back the information he requested and allow the Ribfest committee to proceed with their plans.

Fryer added he was in favour of seeing what other municipalities do and being consistent. He did like the fact there were ten locations with the signs professionally done, adding it will be aesthetically pleasing for people like Communities in Bloom judges.

DiCarlo believes the signage issue will keep coming up, noting there will be a balancing act between promoting events and keeping the community “clean and uncluttered.” He said the Ribfest request was for a specific type of signage and that the town knows where and how many signs will be erected.

“We’re obviously pleased with the outcome,” added Amherstburg Rotary Club president Laura George. We appreciate council taking the time to hear our concerns again.”

Having the support of the economic development advisory committee helped keep the issue in the forefront, she added, and said “it’s with their support we feel we’re successful.”

George also said the backing of Meloche “has been extremely powerful and greatly appreciated.

“We hope our efforts have opened council’s eyes and they will look into this bylaw further,” George added. “As for us, we’ll be focusing our efforts and attention on this year’s Ribfest July 7, 8 and 9.”

Economic Development Advisory Committee wants council to revisit Ribfest sign issue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s economic development advisory committee plans to appear before council to ask that the issue of the Rotary Ribfest sign issue be revisited.

The Ribfest committee, which operates under the umbrella of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg, asked for an extension from 14 days to 28 days prior to their July 7-9 event to better promote the festival but were refused at the March 22 meeting. A motion from Councillor Leo Meloche that night failed to get a seconder.

Carl Gibb, Ribfest committee chair, appeared before the economic development committee and noted the signs “are very important to us” and used the example of the Rotary Club’s recent pasta dinner to show how important signs are to them.

Without a roadside sign, Gibb told the committee that attendance dropped.

Gibb said they would put up ten larger signs around the town in the past and took them down immediately after the event. The club currently cannot have the smaller push-in lawn signs erected on homeowners’ properties as well.

“These are not ugly signs. They are not bristol board with magic marker,” said Gibb. “We spent a lot of money on these signs.”

It was “amazing” to Gibb that the push-in lawn signs are not allowed on residential property. He added they could put up signs in other communities, but not Amherstburg until 14 days before the event.

“It’s frustrating. I don’t know what we are going to do,” said Gibb. “If attendance is down, we may go to another municipality.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said that two weeks is “not enough” for people to be aware of an upcoming event. He said they are not trying to threaten council, but noted the committee puts a lot of time and effort planning the festival.

“If the numbers aren’t there, you can’t sustain it. That’s a fair statement and not a threat,” replied Meloche.

Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said that section of the bylaw has been in place since 2006. She noted the bylaw department is “complaint driven” and there were concerns about an abundance of signage last year with Communities in Bloom judges coming.

The town is participating in Communities in Bloom again this year. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale pointed out that Communities in Bloom and Ribfest did not occur at the same time last year.

Rubli said there were also concerns about signs for multiple events being up simultaneously.

“Because the town is blessed with so many events, there could be a lot of signs up at one time essentially promoting six different events as timelines overlap,” she said.

Meloche believed such restrictions like the town has in place limits freedom of expression and believed it should be pointed out that the town risks losing Ribfest.

Carolyn Davies, president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and that organization’s appointee to the committee, wondered if distance between signs could resolve the issue.

“Maybe it’s a matter of limiting the number of signs,” she said.

Economic Development Advisory Committee chair Bob Rozankovic said the issue at hand was the 14-day extension.

“I support the bylaw the way it is. I support its intent,” said Rozankovic, but said the spirit of the bylaw must also be considered.

“This bylaw does create opportunities for exemptions,” said Rozankovic.

Rozankovic believed any court in the land would uphold an exemption, particularly for a worthy cause.

Davies said there was little to do in Amherstburg when she arrived 20 years ago and “by 2006, we still didn’t have very much.” Things have changed since 2006 and she believed the bylaw needs more updating, particularly since the tourism component to Amherstburg has evolved.

“I think this bylaw is archaic,” said Davies. “It needs to be redeveloped. We’re dealing with a different era than when it was written in 2006.”

The committee, led by Rozankovic, plan to appear before town council April 24 regarding extending the period for Ribfest signs to 28 days.

The Ribfest is scheduled for July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

Traffic committee dissolved due to town’s employee policy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has voted to dissolve one of its committees and bring back a bylaw with appointments to another.

The traffic committee is no more with administration bringing back a bylaw with appointments to the emergency management program committee. The town will also reconsider the appointment it made to the drainage committee made at the Dec. 12 meeting.

In a report to town council, clerk Paula Parker pointed out that administration learned that the person appointed to the drainage committee Dec. 12 – Josh Mailloux – is also a volunteer firefighter with the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“As such, Mr. Mailloux falls into the definition of a part time employee because he is paid and on call for his volunteer status with the Town and must follow Policy C00-00 Code of Conduct for Staff/Employees.”

Section 7.0 of that policy states that “no full-time or part-time permanent municipal employee shall be appointed to serve on a Municipal Board, Commission or Committee unless appointed as an Administrative Representative.”

Mailloux was on the committee of adjustment for seven years and has been a volunteer firefighter for eight years, Parker’s report states.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the appointment of Mailloux was done “in good faith” without knowing he was employed by the town as a volunteer firefighter.

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After learning of the clause in the policy relating to code of conduct for staff and employees, Parker stated “administration realized that there are two other committees with cause for concern.”

The traffic committee was identified as an issue as it has one council member, this term being Councillor Jason Lavigne, and five staff voting members. In its place, traffic and complaints will be filtered through one administrative member who will, in turn, consult with necessary departments and bring recommendations to council.

The emergency management program committee is mandated by the province under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The committee is to consist of employees appointed by council with each entitled to a vote. A bylaw will appoint the members of that committee with a similar procedure likely for the joint policing review committee.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the changes were due to the fact the town realized there was a problem and they wanted to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.

There were also additional members appointed to the economic development advisory committee. Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) president Carolyn Davies was appointed as the ACOC representative while council chose to expand the committee and appoint two more lay committee members. Councillor Rick Fryer put the names of Marta Leardi-Anderson and John Edwards forward, believing the experience of both on the committee will be “priceless.”

“I really look forward to them being on the committee,” said Fryer.

Pouget agreed with Fryer, believing an extra person on the economic development advisory committee would be a help rather than a hindrance.

Councillor Joan Courtney didn’t disagree with the choices made for the committee, but voiced concern on how the choices were arrived at. She said she would have liked more dialogue on the applicants before making a final selection.

“I disagree with the process of how we do this,” said Courtney.