Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Hidden in special electronic council meeting Friday to enact emergency off-site meeting measures amid the COVID-19 crisis is a bureaucratic and political move by the mayor and CAO to limit the public voices of councillors and residents.

Councillors — some of whom have voiced concerns privately in the past about being politically neutered — can vote against the measures presented in the startling staff report.

Part of a procedural bylaws update from staff, which was to have been adopted in the cancelled monthly March council meeting, states:

  • Clarified wording to state that five minutes total is permitted per councillor, per meeting, regardless of the number of topics requested
  • And Identify that the same individuals and/or organizations are limited to a frequency of six months regarding the same matter

As read, that means the increasingly diminished powers of the councillors would be further eroded beyond the already limited monthly time they now have to speak on matters of concern to the town that they were elected to.

As a result, it puts more power in the hands of only Mayor Paul Kelly and CAO Glen Davies.

Further, citizens wanting to address council can only present twice a year.

A staff report for council says the following “individuals / community groups” were consulted:

  • Clerks within the District of Muskoka
  • CAO Davies
  • Ministry Representative, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Aird & Berlis, municipal lawyer

The report was authored Kayla Thibeault, director of legislative services/clerk and approved by Davies.

See the agenda for tomorrow morning’s (March 27) 9:30 a.m. “emergency actions” meeting at:

Special Council Agenda – March 27 2020 – HTML

The meeting will be in electronic Zoom format, broadcast through District of Muskoka Live Stream.

Should the link change, it will be updated on the Town of Gravenhurst Agenda

A special emergency measures council meeting March 27 could further shift the balance of power at town hall away from the public and its reprsentatives.

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