By Cecilia Nasmith
Not long after Simon Chorley made a presentation to Cobourg council about changes he'd like to see incorporated into the town's proposed bylaw to establish rules of order and procedure for council and committees, his wife – Councillor Emily Chorley – put them on the floor for debate.
Chorley's appearance was in the nature of an appeal to council to take into account public comment made (both on-line and at last week's public meeting) about changes they would like to see made.
“I urge you not to pass the bylaw as it is currently presented, but introduce some amendments that reflect the input from the public,” he said.
Chorley went on to specify four such changes, including an adjustment to the start of council meetings, which is currently set at 4 p.m.
“I work full-time. Many other Cobourg residents work full-time jobs and cannot attend or participate,” he said.
“To me, this is inherently anti-democratic.”
Chorley also urged staff assigned by council to report on issues be required to expand beyond the specifics at hand to offer alternative solutions that might be preferable.
He suggested incorporating a deadline by which requested actions should be completed. Otherwise, he said, the people involved are left hanging.
Finally, he urged the two-thirds majority required for changes to this bylaw be instead a simple majority.
When Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin read the bylaw, Emily Chorley did make all those amendments and more.
The suggested change of majority (from two-thirds to a simple majority) was defeated, but the time change was approved – a 6 p.m. start to council. As council normally adjourns at 6 p.m. for public meetings, Chorley suggested a 5 p.m. start on evenings when public meetings are scheduled. This too was passed.
The incorporation of a deadline for staff action was approved, but the requirement of investigating alternatives for staff reports was defeated.
Other amendments Chorley suggested that were approved included a change of terms allowed for appointments to advisory committees. She argued for a six-year term instead of eight years.
“I would like to encourage fresh thinking and a healthy turnover,” she said.
Councillors also approved her suggestion to change the name of the Environmental and Climate Change Advisory Committee to Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee in order to include the three pillars of sustainability – environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic resilience.