Petrolia Councillor Ross O’Hara doesn’t see any reason to restrict the public from asking council direct questions. But he’s willing to talk about it.
Councillor Mary Pat Gleeson wants to end the two public opportunities to ask questions at council meetings. Since the November resignation of the chief administrative officer under unusual circumstances, members of the public have been asking a lot of questions. Gleeson believes it has gotten out of hand and says “the current situation can’t continue.”
Last month, Gleeson proposed a new bylaw which would have ended the practice and placed time limits and restrictions on anyone who wanted to speak to an issue at council.
One concern voice by residents the timing of the plan. If someone wanted to address an agenda item, they had to let town staff know even before the agenda was finished.
Gleeson introduced a revamped proposal Monday which would allow people to ask to speak to agenda items the night of the meeting.
Gleeson’s new proposal calls for up to three delegations to speak to council for 10 minutes each. They would have to provide “the full nature” of their presentation to staff. They would also have to ask to be placed on the agenda six days before the council meeting.
Councillor Joel Field didn’t see a problem with that. “I don’t think there is anyone at supper time who says ‘I’m going to run down to the council meeting to speak,” he says.
Gleeson’s proposal also says the delegations couldn’t talk about pending tenders, labour relations, legal issues including bylaw enforcement, insurance claims or contract negotiations.
Gleeson’s second proposal would allow some last minute additions to the agenda.
It allows council to ask at the beginning of the meeting if there was anyone in attendance who wanted to speak on an item on the agenda before council discusses it. The proposal suggests they have only three citizens speak but it can be extended if the majority of council wishes.
While O’Hara would prefer to leave the question period as it is, he suggested and council agreed to review the proposal at an education session.