by Sylene Argent
Voakes wants discussion on agenda item policy
Councillor Randy Voakes said he had three items he wanted placed on the agenda for the Monday, February 6 meeting, and two items for a previous meeting, that he wanted to speak about.
He claimed all five of those items were brought forward so he could represent his people. They were stricken from the agendas as a result of, what he believes, was due to a meeting the Mayor had with administration when putting the agenda together.
“It really halts me from running my business as an elected Councillor,” he said.
He wants to talk about the process used in terms of how issues, that are important to him as an elected official, can get into an open forum to let the public know what is being worked upon.
He would put a Notice of Motion forward that the policy surrounding “New Business” agenda items be discussed at a future meeting.
Essex CAO Tracey Pillon-Abbs said as per policy, administration does have the opportunity to review agenda items prior to meetings and does have the authorization to consider issues brought forward. She explained that many of those issues that are brought forward are issues that can be dealt with much faster by just letting administration know about them as opposed as bringing it to a Council meeting.
Pillon-Abbs said that she has had conversations on how the Town could get the audience to see the progress made on some issues and report to the public on all the great things Council does on a day-to-day basis.
Essex Mayor Ron McDermott said in terms of using the back room to cancel discussion issues Voakes wants, since he has been Mayor, there has not been once Council or staff member who has stopped trying to move the Town forward.
“I’m being accused of stopping forward process. I am following the rules that we, and former Councils, have put out there…” McDermott said.
Councillor Sherry Bondy called a Point of Order on the Mayor, noting a Notice of Motion is not to be discussed until it is brought forward at the next meeting.
The Mayor said he had the floor and wanted to speak about the issue, not the Notice of Motion.
He continued to speak, and Bondy suggested the Mayor, “Let it go.”
“Let it go? Why? So, he looks like…[the knight] in shinning armour?…There’s coming a day, there’s coming a day, I’m warning ya, I’m going to shut my mouth again for the umptieth…time. But, there is coming a day there will be a reckoning, believe me,” McDermott said.
Annual operations report
Essex Council received CAO Tracey Pillon-Abbs’s report on annual operations.
Pillon-Abbs said the report was submitted for informational purposes. She said the report summarizes Essex activities in 2016, which was quite significant. The report included an eight-page spread sheet of activities.
The Town has worked very hard to deliver on its mission statement that Council approved in March of 2016 as part of the Strategic Plan. With support of Council, the Town’s commitment to providing high-quality services, supporting economic development, keeping the workplace safe, and maintaining a high quality of life for residents has remained very constant throughout the year, she said.
Overall, Pillon-Abbs added, 2016 was a year of many successes and accomplishments.
The information contained in the document will be used to create an annual strategic plan report, it will also guide the Town in measuring progress. That report will be presented on March 20 during a special meeting, she said.
The report highlights some of those public services initiated or undertaken, including launching the new e-billings option for property taxes; sibling swim lessons; opening a Town operated Bait Shop at Colchester Harbour; new technology; implementing the heritage plaques program; the purchasing of 70 acres of land in Essex Centre to be developed for future sport fields; investing in infrastructure; and supporting growth.
Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said the report was excellent as it gave a lot of detail.
Procurement Policy and Practices
Council received the report, “Procurement Policy and Practices-Local Purchases.”
The report noted in December, Council asked administration, through a motion, to bring a report forward regarding the procedures on how the Town distributes and awards work on infrastructure projects that do not require a formal tender when purchasing supplies.
The report shares that the policy governing the Procurement and Disposal of Goods and Services was adopted by the Council of the day in 2004 via bylaw. For purchases up to $5,000, the need to obtain comparative pricing is at the discretion of the purchaser or department head and does not require a purchase order. Purchases with a value between $5,001 and $15,000 require three written comparative quotes.
The report continues that on average, 54 percent of the supplies and services purchased in 2016 were from suppliers in the Town of Essex, and 32 percent of the supplies and services purchased were purchased within the region.
14 percent of these purchases were made outside of the region, and may not have available from a supplier in the Town of Essex or they could not be provided based on emergency.
Further, the report states that the Discriminatory Business Practices Act, R.S.O. 1990 (the Act) was established to prevent discrimination in Ontario on the grounds of race, creed, colour, nationality, place of origin, sex, or geographical location of persons employed or engaging in business. Section 5.1 of the Act provides that no person in Ontario shall engage in a discriminatory business practice.
Councillor Bill Caixeiro thinks there could be some discretion in terms of items/services that are under $5,000 as quotes are not needed. His suggestion is that he would like to see local services used as much as possible.
First-past-the-post municipal election to remain
Essex Council received the report “Municipal Election Act Amendments and Ranked Ballots,” and further concurred and supported the recommendation to maintain the existing ‘first-past-the-post’ election system for the 2018 Municipal Election. Council also directed administration to prepare a report to recommend the method of voting for the 2018 Municipal Election. Said report will come before Council prior to May 1.
The reasoning, the report notes, is due to timeline constraints set out in the Municipal Elections Act.
According to the report, Essex’s Director of Legislative Services/Clerk Robert Auger will review alternative methods for vote counting.
Councillor Sherry Bondy believes what worked well in past elections is having satellite offices in McGregor and Harrow.
Auger noted that any change to ward boundaries or changes to composition to Council, which Deputy Mayor position would come under, the deadline would be December 31 of this year.