Council meetings axed
By BOB BRUTON, BARRIE EXAMINER November 2 2010
Barrie city council has lightened its own load for the next month.
Two of the four scheduled council and general committee meetings for the out-going councillors were cancelled — those on Nov. 15 and 22 — at Monday’s meeting.
The Nov. 8 and 29 meetings remain in place. The next council, elected Oct. 25, will be sworn into office on Dec. 6.
“The cancelling of the meetings just seems to make sense,” said Coun. Michael Prowse, who was re-elected in Ward 6.
“When the province changed the election date, which I thought was a great idea, they didn’t change the date that the council would be sworn in and in power. This leaves a gap of about six weeks (between the election and inaugural meeting).”
Prowse said cancelling the meetings is not only about the lack of necessity, but cost as well.
“If we don’t cancel some of the meetings, this leaves us with several meetings that will have very little or nothing on the agenda,” he said. “While members of council being there is not a concern, the real issue is the cost associated with staff preparing and staffing unnecessary council meetings, costing the taxpayers more money with little or no payoff.
“Coun. (Barry) Ward and I thought it made a lot more business sense to manage our resources appropriately and not waste money or staff time.”
“I think there is unlikely to be anything of substance coming forward in the next few weeks, until the new council is sworn in, because we are lame-duck,” Ward said. “I’m certain we can cover all the necessary business in three meetings, rather than five (counting Monday’s meeting).
“There is a cost to holding meetings, especially in staff time, and it seems foolish to have senior staff sitting at council for the next consecutive weeks when there are better things they could be doing with their time. This is especially true with the clerk’s office, which has the most work in preparing and running council meetings.
“The clerk’s office has been busy over the past two months with the election and is going to be busy over the next five weeks preparing for the new council and helping the five new council members,” said Ward, who was re-elected in Ward 4.
He sees it as being little different than reference committee meetings, which are regularly cancelled when there’s not enough business on the agenda to make them worthwhile.
City Clerk Dawn McAlpine said cancelling the Nov. 15 and 22 meetings will have the least impact on council business.
A majority of this council has been re-elected — Ward 2 Coun. Jeff Lehman as mayor, Lynn Strachan in Ward 2, Ward, Prowse, John Brassard in Ward 7 and Alex Nuttall in Ward 10.
Mayor Dave Aspden was defeated in the Oct. 25 election. Ward 1 Coun. Mike Ramsay also ran unsuccessfully for mayor. Coun. Jerry Moore did not seek re-election after two terms in Ward 8.
Doug Shipley defeated Coun. Rod Jackson in Ward 3, while Brian Jackson, the current Innisfil mayor, defeated Coun. Andrew Prince in Ward 9. Jackson became a Barrie resident when the city borders moved south into Innisfil on Jan. 1.
Bonnie Ainsworth will be sworn in as the new Ward 1 councillor on Dec. 6, while Peter Silveira won in Ward 5 and Jennifer Robinson won a narrow victory in Ward 8.