Tehkummah council opts for two monthly meetings

TEHKUMMAH—Faced with a large and growing backlog of council decisions stemming from a workload of challenging decisions, Tehkummah council decided to take action. With council rarely completing its agenda by the 11 pm deadline set out in its procedural bylaw, council moved to add an additional meeting in the month. Hours for both meetings have been adjusted to 7 pm to 10 pm from the current 7 pm to 11 pm.

The only dissenting voice on council to moving to two meetings a month was Councillor Ron Hierons, who maintained that he did not believe it was “worth the money.” Councillor Hierons also objected to a proposed 5:30 pm start to meetings, noting, “ that is when I feed my cattle.”

Council adjusted the timeframe to accommodate.

“I have been in favour of a second meeting, I think having a second meeting is a great thing,” said Councillor Paul Bowerman. Mr. Bowerman suggested that he would be willing to forgo an honorarium for the second meeting.

The matter of council honorariums came up a couple of times during the council meeting during the later budget debates, with newly appointed Councillor Michael Mackenzie suggesting that council honorariums should be frozen as a cost saving measure. That suggestion did not go forward.

During the debate, Councillor Bowerman noted that the Municipality of Central Manitoulin had different chairs for each of its committee meetings as well, something he said he thought was a good idea.

“We are falling behind,” said Councillor Bowerman. “We need to address this.” He cited a number of municipal issues that need to be addressed, including roads, health and safety and economic development. “We have been struggling to keep up.”

Concerns were expressed on the strain that the additional evening work would place on staff. “Maybe they could take turns,” suggested Councillor Lorie Leeson. “That person could come in later.” Staff at the meeting affirmed that the extra meeting would not cause undue hardship.

“We will get Barb (deputy clerk Barb Deforge) to set up a procedural meeting,” said Reeve Eric Russell.

Ms. Deforge pointed out that the mayor could simply call the second meeting.

“Let’s limit it to 10 pm,” suggested Reeve Russell. Councillor Leeson moved the motion, seconded by McKenzie. Councillor Hierons announced that he was not in favour of the motion following the vote.

“I wish you would speak up before so we could know what your reasons are,” said Councillor McKenzie, noting that the council might have accommodated his concerns.

It was then that Councillor Hierons announced that he did not believe the cost was justified and Councillor Bowerman offered to forgo his honourarium. “Don’t pay me then,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of thing I have been talking about.”