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Springwater council delegates authority to CAO, emergency control group

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In Council Watch
Apr 2nd, 2020
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Springwater council in special session

Springwater council practices distancing in special session, attended remotely by some councillors. In the council chamber, from left, CAO Jeff Scmidt, Councillor Perry Ritchie, Mayor Don Allen and Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin. Clerk Renee Ainsworth has her back to the camera. 

By Kate Harries AWARE News Network

Despite reservations expressed by some councillors, Springwater Township Council voted on March 25, 2020 to delegate its authority to CAO Jeff Schmidt.

Planning Director Brent Spagnol has been appointed deputy CAO. The by-law, passed unanimously, authorizes Schmidt “to take such actions as he may deem necessary and appropriate in order to deal with any emerging issues arising from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and to ensure the continuity of business operations.”

The by-law requires Schmidt to consult with a recently formed emergency control group made up of Mayor Don Allen, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin and the township’s department heads.

Councillor George Cabral expressed concern that council is being left out of the loop and only informed of decisions as they are released to the public.

He pointed to an email sent out by Schmidt the day before the council meeting with regard to continued payment of full-time township staff during a 14-day closing mandated by the province.

That is a decision he would have expected to have been brought to council, he said. “We’re looking at providing delegated authority to the CAO and it seems to me that delegated authority was utilized last night in sending out that correspondence.”

Councillor Jack Hanna asked what the rationale is for continuing to pay staff that may not be engaged in full employment, noting that many in private industry are laying off staff.

Schmidt said that much of the township’s work continues, even though it is being done remotely, with projects for which there may not have been time being brought forward. Any layoff of permanent staff might lead to wrongful dismissal cases, he added.

Hanna said he didn’t understand why council wouldn’t be involved in all decisions.

Schmidt said the township needs to make quick decisions in a situation where “things are changing by the hour.”

Councillor Anita Moore asked for an example of an urgent decision regarding which council might not be able to come together quickly enough. Schmidt did not provide a specific example but suggested decisions by the prime minister or premier “may require us to take action fairly quickly.”

Cabral noted that he, as a retired police officer, has background in emergency management and Moore, being a health professional, could also bring useful experience to making the decisions required at this time.

Schmidt said he is in constant communication with the Simcoe-Muskoka Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner.

Moore said she had not been privy to any reports or minutes of the meetings of the emergency control group. “I’d like to see those if I could.” Allen said Schmidt had been updating council by email.

“Are there reports, or no reports?” Moore insisted.

“We have an established agenda,” Schmidt told her. “We will get you the minutes.”

See also:

My View: Midhurst Secondary Plan proceeds with Tree Cutting 

4 Responses to “Springwater council delegates authority to CAO, emergency control group”

  1. Bill says:

    Kudos to Hanna, Cabral and Moore for raising quite valid points. The delegated authority typically has specific responsibilities and is not an omnibus delegation. With technology on line meetings are instant, and yes there may be many in the foreseeable future, but that’s the job of Council. I find the culprit is a lack of leadership by the two heads of Council.

    • Ann says:

      I agree with you Bill, there is a definite lack of leadership by the Mayor and DM, but I don’t understand why the rest of Council voted to delegate its authority to CAO Jeff Schmidt.

  2. Peter Lomath says:

    Goodbye Canada and specifically Springwater as we know it!

    Why have elections to VOTE in place representatives to OVERSEE the actions of non-elected bureaucrats and then at the slightest hint of a worldwide problem simply hand over CONTROL of our destiny?

    “The delegated authority typically has specific responsibilities and is not an omnibus delegation.”

    Let’s see the wording of that “delegated authority” before implementing the delegation. Bet you its all encompassing and does not have any constraints that could result in later action for any form of abuse.

    Another story about Springwater shows that even the elected council seems to be firmly under the finger of developers, remove any chance of a vote against a project by elected Councillors and simply hand it over to overpaid (just look at the sunshine lists for Simcoe county municipalities) staff who already produce most of the input provided to councils to make decisions and you might as well simply eliminate our election process and allow Canada to become a dictatorship by CAO and Clerk!

    “Councillor Anita Moore asked for an example of an urgent decision regarding which council might not be able to come together quickly enough. Schmidt did not provide a specific example but suggested decisions by the prime minister or premier “may require us to take action fairly quickly.”

    Just look at Trudeau completing his fathers legacy of handing our financial future over to the banks and Ford whose latest emergency mobile broadcast was headed “Presidential Alert” to see why neither the “prime minister or premier” have the interests of you and I (the people paying the shot) on their list.

    With the “police state” future hovering on Canada’s horizon and held back simply by the current refusal of Trudeau to enact the “WMA”, the last thing any municipality should do is put any non-elected party in charge of governance!

    Currently a police officer does not have the right to enter your property without a reason supported by a court order. However, a building inspector does have the right to enter your property for any undisclosed reason.

    My sympathy goes out the to residents of Springwater for having their elected officials’ hand over the future of the township to the non-elected bureaucrats!

    • Ann says:

      You make some very good points Peter.
      I agree that our democracy is constantly being undermined in this country on all levels.
      The corporate sector is fully in control.

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