Firstly, I, as a member of your municipal council, would like to apologize to the residents of Brock for what I feel was an act of contempt against you and your right to have your local government openly discuss, debate and vote on a very important matter of public policy.
Last Wednesday (Nov. 24), Brock council held another in-camera closed meeting to discuss the Beaverton Supportive Housing project. Council discussed the most recently received version of the Minutes of Settlement (MOS) from The Region to try and come up with some kind of agreement with the Region on the project.
Due to a prior commitment and given the very short notice for this meeting, I was not able to attend. I was informed through a series of emails between staff and members of council that the meeting was simply to receive and review content of the latest regional offer and that an open debate and vote would be held the following day. I even confirmed this fact with Mayor John Grant on Wednesday evening.
On Thursday morning I learned that there would be no open discussion, debate and vote on this matter. It had been decided during a closed meeting to accept the Region’s offer. Later on Thursday there would be an open meeting but no vote or debate and the MOS would be made public.
In fact, it would appear it was a deliberate move to not post the MOS until only minutes before that meeting took place even though they had been signed and available for many hours before that.
It is my opinion that this was a series of contemptuous moves against the public, open government and the process we all rely on. The decision not to debate the Region’s offer in a public open session and worse the decision not to vote on it in open session coupled with hiding the document as long as possible is very troubling especially given that this is an agreement so many are apparently proud of.
When I raised this point during Thursday’s open meeting, I did receive an apology from The Mayor that he apparently was confused on the procedure. That of course leads me to believe that even the Mayor did not realize that Council had officially voted to accept this deal. I appreciate and accept the Mayor’s apology. However, perhaps their needs to be an apology to the residents of Brock Township.
There have been many closed sessions of council in the last year in which the BSH project has been discussed. These closed meetings were required since they dealt with receiving legal or other advice on the matter and such meetings are permitted under the Municipal Act. However, all of that should have come to an end after the final version of the Region’s offer was received. In fact, it had been brought up a number of times by members of council that there would be a final and open vote on the MOS. That did not happen.
It’s my opinion that this is the kind of political maneuvering and nonsense which causes people to lose trust in their representatives and the process in general. This is the kind of contempt which drives people away from taking part in the system of government and it’s an affront to transparent and decent government. If this kind of thing had happened prior to the last election I’m positive there would have been an outcry by some of those currently on this council.
What kind of agreement is it when it’s hidden from the public as long as possible? What kind of agreement is it when council refuses to debate it and vote on it in an open session? What kind of Council is it that would be contemptuous of the public and the process to this extent?
I, for one, apologize for what took place last week. I am sorry.
Ward 3 Councillor