Well, Council was back in session on Monday night and to say the least it was quite the interesting meeting.
As always, we are happy to provide notes to get you up to speed with what went down at Council.
Lights, Camera, Action!
There’s never a dull moment at Council meetings and this one started off with Alderman Johnston disappointed that once again the update on the biodigester she (and Alderman Kadwell) requested was not on the agenda.
Mayor Bentley quickly interjected that the Town Clerk had dealt with it and it will be coming to the July Council meeting – – conveniently when everyone is on summer holidays. Stay tuned.
Recreation Services Minutes
Alderman Wilson noted that there is a lot of flooding in area parks and beaches and that “staff are thin” due to the Southward Park opening. He requested the public’s patience with cleanup. Alderman DiFlavio stated that beaches are cleaned once a month and were just cleaned up yesterday. Alderman Berry asked that more resources be considered to keep beach areas clean, especially with the new Waterfront Park. A suggestion was also made to replace the steel garbage drums with more attractive receptacles with smaller openings to deter illegal dumping.
The Town Manager stepped in to state that he had discussed extra staffing supports with the Rec Manager and the plan is to “administratively implement” some summer student hiring to bolster the ranks. Alderman DiFlavio also made mention that “equipment” will be required to access the new beach areas (west end) for maintenance and this is being planned for. Source of funding for the “equipment”, students and receptacles is to be determined.
Alderman Kadwell questioned the erection of a Quonset hut in the new Southward Park. He noted that it did not appear to be in the original plans and asked if it had been budgeted for and the cost. No response was provided. Stay tuned, again.
Alderman Kadwell requested that Alderman Wilson address the recent Regional Transportation Steering Committee (TSC) meeting where Bruce Mackenzie (Save the Woodlot) requested to have the reference to the Livingston Road extension permanently removed from the Transportation Master Plan (TMP). The motion was recommended by the TSC and brought forward to Regional Public Works who deferred it back asking if the TSC motion had been presented to Grimsby Town Council. Mayor Bentley noted that it had not.
Without waiting for Alderman Wilson to respond, Mayor Bentley interjected that it will go to Regional Council June 8 and will probably be referred back to the Town. Later in the meeting under New Business, Alderman Wilson spoke on this again. Mayor Bentley noted that the original 2004/05 Comprehensive Review still stands and “we’re going West” with development. He stated that now, with the Greenbelt not changing, if there’s no need for it (the Livingston extension), it would have to be brought back after the Regional Council meeting to the Grimsby Council, in writing, through a Committee.
Alderman Mullins asked if an EA will be done. Town Manager Brandt stated that yes, it would be required as part of the Region’s Transit Station study where Livingston and the Woodlot fall into that quadrant. Mr. Brandt noted that he had spoken with the Region’s Public Works Commissioner (Mr. Tripp) who reiterated that the EA had been put on hold pending the final Greenbelt review and now that we know the GO train is coming, there will be a requirement for increased density, resulting in increased traffic. He stated that the implications of removing the Livingston extension from the TMP would have to be considered. So, it sounds like the Woodlot is still threatened by the Town through heel-dragging and no one should let their guard down. Ask your Alderman where he/she stands on the Livingston extension and what is being done to move Bruce’s motion forward as quickly as possible.
As per our earlier post here , this second Ombudsman’s report to Council is a firm reminder of what shouldn’t happen behind closed doors.
Alderman Berry spoke fervently to the report, taking responsibility for calling the meeting in question. His statements then drifted in a somewhat different direction:
“I’ve been re-elected five times, so there’s some people that like me”, “some people want us to fail… I wish people would explain that to me” and, “nobody up here is trying to screw the town around, so why people get that in their heads, I have no idea. I guess for the next election, I’m not sure.”
In exasperation he followed with…
“if you want to see us fail and you think I or anybody else for that matter on this council is going to take flight, I don’t see it happening”, and “you can start your groups up and have the different agendas set”.
Quite a defensive posture… for?
Town Manager Brandt then came on board to explain that the Town of Grimsby (Corporation entity) is the majority shareholder of Niagara Power. The “Shareholder” sends representatives to meetings, these can be anyone to represent the Corporation/Shareholder, and the Town decides who to send. The Board of Directors of Niagara Power are made up of members of the municipalities and others. The Town is allowed three Directors. Any business decisions require approval of Town Council. A question was raised if Directors of the Board are different than Directors of the Corporation. Directors (of Niagara Power) are appointed by the Town of Grimsby (Corporation).
Alderman Kadwell noted that Recommendation #4, “when Council meets in its capacity as a corporate shareholder”, would mean having agendas prepared in advance and subsequent meeting minutes. The Town Clerk’s response to this was that “it is a recommendation”. Town Manager Brandt appreciated the report’s clarification of what a meeting is, where both criteria must be met: a quorum must be present and it advances the business of the municipality. The Town Clerk noted that further clarification and direction will be provided in Bill 68 once it is proclaimed.
A key statement in the Ombudsman’s report referring to the November 11, 2016 meeting is:
34. The individuals who attended the meeting did so in their capacity as members of council. Any business transacted by council as the shareholder of Niagara Power Inc. is the business of the Town of Grimsby. As such, Niagara Power shareholders’ meetings attended by a quorum of Grimsby council are meetings of council that are subject to the open meeting requirements.
To avoid future “boondoggles”, Mayor Bentley noted that previously all members of Council had been invited to shareholder’s meetings. That won’t be happening now. The Town is considering a change to its procedure by-law to limit attendance at shareholders’ meetings to those members of council who are appointed to the corporation’s board. So… no “meeting”, no problem.
Just when you thought enough was said… Appointment to Board of Directors of Holdco2
Council passed a motion to appoint Michael Goodale, formerly with Grimsby Power, as a Director of Holdco2 for a four-year term.
- Bocce ball might be coming to Southward Park (or Alway Community Centre – not decided yet)
- Tourist Information Kiosk – $15K/yr in Regional funding, lease not signed yet, progressing slowly
- Carnegie building restoration – should be done by July and open house at Doors Open in September
- Doors Open Sept 23 – Carnegie building, Southward Park, new firehall, and… the BIODIGESTER!
- Alderman Kadwell noted the Region is replacing watermains along the CN tracks with 20” pipe and that a public meeting will be held. A lot of money, a lot of work. This brought up talk of the Region’s water leak at the Grimsby/Lincoln border that was discovered about a year ago … where the Town recouped their estimated $300K loss (whereas some notes show it was $500K).