Continuing on the road to public input

August 25, 2015

Town Council

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Continuing down the road to more public input, Saugeen Shores Council voted at its Monday night meeting (Aug. 24th) on a resolution to hold a public 'open forum' prior to each Council meeting on a one-year trial basis.

The open forum idea was raised by new Councilor Cheryl Grace and was the subject of considerable debate, with some Councilors and the Mayor raising doubts about the concept. (To read original proposed idea, CLICK HERE)

At Monday night's meeting (Aug. 24th) however, the resolution was passed on a trial basis with Councilor Don Matheson, Vice Deputy Mayor Diane Huber and Mayor Mike Smith voting against it.

Huber raised several points that she felt the resolution did not cover.  "I see no reference to the number of people who will be able to speak, no mention is made of any engagement or dialogue and I think one year as a trial is too long.  I appreciate the decorum that we have established here at meetings and I am see the real possibility of a noisy interaction and disruption before a regular Council meeting begins."

Councilor Mike Myatt however disagreed saying that he had confidence in the electorate and how people would behave.

Councilor John Rich raised the question of how the new 'open forum' system would be evaluated.  "How do we judge if this is successful or a failure?"

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Councilor Cheryl Grace, who initiated the idea, agreed  that, if at some point before the year-end of the trial the situation became "intolerable" or "abused", Council would have to make a decision to discontinue.  "However, I think the fact that someone can speak to Council as a whole in a timely way is a good thing," she said.  "The Council agenda is published the day after the deadline for submissions for deputations and, therefore, anyone wanting to speak to an issue on the agenda would have to wait two weeks and get on to the agenda.  This way, they can speak at time of Council."

Mayor Luke Charbonneau pointed out that the resolution stands outside the Procedural Bi-laws.  "At the end of the year, or before if absolutely necessary if the trial has to be stopped, then Council can make a decision at that time to change things."

Councilor Don Matheson recommended that the open forums should run from 7:10 p.m. to 7:25 p.m.

The resolution was carried.
 (To read the Resolution ... Click Here)

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015