For the first time in several weeks, West Nipissing council held a productive meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19, making a dent in the backlog of items that built up over a month of pointless arguing.
Council had not dealt with an agenda item of public interest since the Sept. 7 meeting, when Mayor Joanne Savage expelled Coun. Rolly Larabie for “disrespectful conduct” and three other councillors left in protest. The following two meetings were cut short by disputes about procedural by-laws and demands for apologies, while a month’s worth of municipal business piled up.
The latest meeting opened with the mayor asking if there was a reconsideration on any apologies – there was not – before moving on to a vote to approve an amended agenda, which shifted council’s time-sensitive items to the beginning. However, during the comment period regarding the new agenda, some members of council couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie.
“I’m very disappointed that councillors have decided to go against the procedures that we have in place to keep everything above board and that they aren’t willing to apologize for their own actions,” admonished Coun. Denis Sénécal.
Coun. Dan Roveda raised a point of order, noting that Sénécal’s comments had nothing to do with the agenda and that an opportunity to apologize had already been provided, so it was time to move on.
“Let’s move forward. This grandstanding is not good for the public of West Nipissing. I think that they want us to move forward, that’s the calls that I’ve been getting,” said Roveda.
Mayor Savage rejected the point of order. “We are dealing with a resolution to deviate from the normal agenda format,” she said. “If people wish to speak on that issue and provide an opinion on that issue, they are entitled to it.”
Coun. Roveda appealed the ruling, which should have triggered a vote by all of council as per Sec 25.5 of the procedural by-law, but the mayor held no such vote.
Once council approved the new agenda, the meeting ran relatively smoothly from there.
Nature’s Trail Bridge replacement on track
Council voted unanimously to award the contract for the replacement of the Nature’s Trail bridge in Wolseley Bay to R.M. Belanger Ltd.
The Chelmsford company had submitted the lowest of four tenders at $853,907.00 (plus H.S.T.). Council dedicated $1.2 million in this year’s budget for the project, which will replace the existing bridge deck and abutments in the bridge’s current location at the end of Wolseley Bay Rd. The current bridge has been reduced to a maximum load of just five tonnes since 2018.
The contract was first on council’s agenda at the Oct. 5 meeting. Prior to the delays at council, it was estimated the project would be finished by mid to late December. There is still optimism that the project will be completed before the new year.