West Nipissing council has yet to deal with a single agenda item since their explosive Sept. 7 council meeting, the latest attempt once again stalling over a dispute about the agenda.
Mayor Joanne Savage ended West Nipissing’s Sept. 21 council meeting before it could even get going, opposing that night’s agenda based on her interpretation of a procedural by-law that they couldn’t deal with new issues until the items from the Sept. 7 meeting – which ended due to a lack of quorum – were finished. (It should be noted that all the unfinished items from Sept. 7 were included in the Sept. 21 agenda, as is always the case when council is unable to finish an agenda when curfew is not extended.) The mayor, Councillors Lise Sénécal, Denis Sénécal and Yvon Duhaime voted against adopting the agenda on the basis that it wasn’t “proper procedure.”
Council was informed by CAO Jay Barbeau via email ahead of time that the mayor had an incorrect interpretation of procedural by-law 11.6. However, when several councillors requested Barbeau be granted the floor to speak during the vote on the Sept. 21 agenda, those requests were denied by the mayor and the vote went ahead. With the agenda not adopted, the meeting could not go on.
The by-law in question makes no mention of having to complete a previous meeting’s unfinished agenda before introducing a new agenda. It reads as follows: “If at any time during the Meeting there is no Quorum, the Meeting shall automatically be deemed to stand recessed until there is a Quorum again in attendance or should the lack of a Quorum continue for thirty (30) minutes, then the Meeting shall automatically be adjourned until the next regular Meeting, or until a special Meeting is called to deal with the matters still to be dealt with at the adjourned Meeting.”
“(Procedural by-law) 11.6 or whatever terms about quorum clearly articulate if you want to have a special meeting to finish off matters that were not finished, then the mayor is within her right to call a special meeting,” says Barbeau “There’s an assumption that it will be at a time that’s convenient, but that seems to be ignored as well. The language saying if you didn’t finish a meeting, the items are moved to the next regular meeting, her interpretation is that only those items are to be dealt with at the next meeting, but that’s not what the by-law intends in my opinion and that’s been verified (by the municipality’s lawyer).”