By Pam Douglas
Special to Focus
Adding new business to a council agenda the day of the meeting could get a little easier if a committee’s recommendation is approved next week.
Committee of Council Wednesday approved Regional Councillor Paul Palleschi’s motion to do away with the requirement that a unanimous vote is needed.
Instead, committee has recommended a two-thirds majority vote should be the requirement.
If council approves the motion next week, a statutory public meeting would be called for public input because changing the rules requires an amendment to the city’s procedural bylaw.
Council approval of the motion is not a given next week only because the majority of politicians were not at the table when the vote was taken at committee. The meeting went longer than normal, and some councillors had to leave to attend scheduled appointments.
The decision to require a unanimous vote was made by council in 2004, in response to an ever-growing list of delegates appearing at council to discuss issues that councillors said were better dealt with at committee of council.
Councillors criticized the rule last week when former mayor Peter Robertson was denied a chance to speak on his proposal to build two baseball stadiums in Brampton and bid for the baseball/softball events in the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Three council members, including Mayor Susan Fennell, opposed adding the issue to the agenda. Every member of council had to approve the addition, so he was turned away.
Robertson made his pitch this week at committee, and his ideas were well-received by councillors. He said the deadline to submit Pan Am Games bids had been extended after the council meeting so he was able to attend this week’s committee.
Fennell said the fact committee allowed Robertson to speak at length this week shows the rules are sound and council is “completely open and accessible”.
Still, she said she did not “object” to the idea of changing the rule.
“Lots of councils do two-thirds,” she said.
Regional Councillor Elaine Moore said what happened with Robertson last week was the “perfect indication” of a need to change.
“I think we should encourage folks to come to committee, but there are times and circumstances in which they need to come to council,” Moore said. “I’m just getting frustrated that, every time we turn around, we are getting caught up in our own procedure. We don’t see this at the region (of Peel council).”
City Councillor Grant Gibson said the situation has reversed since the rule was changed eight years ago. He said there used to be line-ups of delegations at council, but now, “it seems around here, people (councillors) are picking and choosing who they want to add on.”
“I think this has been coming to a head for the last two years,” he said.
Palleschi was the most vocal in trying to get Robertson added last week. He called the refusal “disgusting” and later said one, two or three members of council should not be allowed to prevent new business from being added to the agenda.
By Pam Douglas