Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Gamble thinks Public can not be trusted to speak at Council

Originally Posted: March 10th, 2017, Collingwood Connection By John Edwards

 

Public can’t be trusted for comments: Blue Mountains councillor

While Blue Mountains council is considering an open mike session during meetings, one councillor believes the general public can’t be trusted for comments they might make.

At a meeting on March 6, council voted to consider a 15 minute public comment session during council meetings and changing the deadlines for submitting deputation requests as part of revisions to the procedural bylaw.

Clerk Corrina Giles said the province is making changes to the Municipal Act, which will lead to changes in the procedural bylaw.

Coun. Bob Gamble was hesitant to give residents an open forum in large part due to the Save the Soul of the L.E. Shore Memorial Library Facebook group, which has been critical of decisions of council and the library board. This group was created last year after several staff members at the library were relieved of their duties.

“The general public has indicated, over the past six or eight months through Facebook comments, they can not be trusted for the type of comments or concerns they might put forth in an open mike. They have the right to have contact but the general public has not indicated their desire to comment in favourable manner.” – Bob Gamble

“The general public has indicated, over the past six or eight months through Facebook comments, they can not be trusted for the type of comments or concerns they might put forth in an open mike,” Gamble said.  “They have the right to have contact but the general public has not indicated their desire to comment in favourable manner.”

Currently, the council meeting agenda is posted on Wednesday but deputation requests must be in by the Tuesday before the meeting. This means many residents don’t have an opportunity to see the agenda before requesting a deputation.

Giles suggested moving the deadlines to Friday, allowing residents to see the agenda.

The issue of an open mike session was raised as part of a letter to council, where Alar Soever quoted some of Mayor John McKean’s campaign literature. At the time, McKean said the current process “stifles involvement.”

“Right now if someone wants to address council it can be a long and frustrating exercise,” McKean said in 2014. “I would set aside 15 minutes at every meeting so people can just get up and say what they want.”

McKean was asked about this by Coun. Joe Halos about the letter.

“I think we should implement our audio and video of council meetings and see where it goes from there,” McKean responded.

Coun. John McGee said the town needs to work on developing an overall communications strategy.

“We don’t know what it is we’re trying to accomplish because we don’t have an overall communications strategy,” he said.

Coun. Michael Seguin asked for staff to present some options for an open forum in the changes to the bylaw. He said Wasaga Beach and Meaford both have open mike sessions but they are called public commentary.

Gamble still had concerns about what the public might say.

“Somehow we have to filter it, so it doesn’t become a big issue,” he said.

McKean said that would be very difficult to do but will ask the members of the public to be cordial and not defamatory.

Staff is expected to present a report to council in the coming weeks.

http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/7182114-public-can-t-be-trusted-for-comments-blue-mountains-councillor/