Mayor Jordan began last Monday’s meeting talking about a national initiative on emergency preparedness. The theme this year was “Be Ready For Anything”… fitting words considering what was to follow.

If you missed the meeting and don’t want to watch the 4+ hour event, you can find the more digestible version of the interesting events in this post. The meeting had a little bit of everything, drama, action, comedy… better than television Netflix.

What would otherwise be a routine matter, Approval of the Agenda, turned into a debacle, kicked off by Councillor Dunstall asking that 5 items be deleted from the agenda. The five items were:

  • Resident Delegation on Municipal Act & Delegation of Authority
  • CAO Performance Appraisal Motion
  • Legal Opinion About Removal of An Individual From A Statutory Position Motion
  • Notice of Motion – Cost of Human Resources Review
  • Notice of Motion – Signing Authorities

Councillor Vardy inquired why Councillor Dunstall wanted these removed. Before he had the opportunity to answer, Councillor Kadwell asked that the motion be split to consider the individual items. Dunstall replied that he saw the items as “an attack on our CAO” and he just “had enough”.

The explanation did not sit well with Councillor Vardy who stated that his explanation “did not suffice” for her and said the items are about transparency and that items like “a performance review” are not an attack. She further commented that delegations should not be prevented from presenting and “shutting down citizens” is not appropriate. On the banking signing authorities Notice of Motion she stated there is still inconsistencies in the information presented to Council.

Councillor Freake spoke about the importance of a CAO performance review and states “As far as a witch-hunt? Call it what you want, if that’s what you want to call it, a witch-hunt fine… but I think it’s being responsible and I think as Councillors we need to do this”.

Later, Councillor Freake wanted to ask the CAO if he would have any issues of Council commissioning a performance review. This evoked a defensive “point of order” from Councillor Ritchie who stated it was Council’s decision to make and saying CAO Schlange shouldn’t have to answer a question about a performance review. Eventually the CAO offered comment and stated he thought January 2022 would be the best time for his appraisal.

Eventually, they got to vote on each of the items. Screen space is at a premium these days so to save space, here is a mini “How They Voted”.

Deletion of CAO Performance Appraisal Motion
YEAS – Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, Vaine
NAYS – Bothwell, Freake, Sharpe, Vardy, Jordan

Deletion of Legal Opinion About Removal of An Individual From A Statutory Position Motion
YEAS – Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie
NAYS -Bothwell, Freake, Sharpe, Vardy, Jordan

Deletion of Delegation from Adam Mottershead
YEAS – Nil
NAYS – Bothwell, Dunstall, Freake, Kadwell, Ritchie, Sharpe, Vaine, Vardy, Jordan

Deletion of Notice of Motion HR Review
YEAS – Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, Sharpe, Vaine
NAYS – Bothwell, Freake, Vardy, Jordan

Deletion of Notice of Motion on Signing Officers
YEAS – Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, Sharpe, Vaine
NAYS – Bothwell, Freake, Vardy, Jordan

Delegation – 153 Mud Street East
Chris Anders of the IBI Group made a presentation to Council on behalf of the owner’s of 153 Mud Street East, which had previously been the subject of an ongoing Site Alteration which was later denied by the Town as the work did not support a normal farm practice.

The consultant said that allowing work would improve the condition of the lands, which now has issues with standing water. Growing conditions would be improved and that the work would be consistent with normal farm practice. He denied that it was a commercial fill operation (dump your fill for cash) and that the lands need to be restored and “made safe”.

No questions from Council as there was a closed session item on this matter.

Delegation – Tony Quirk & David Leonard – Air Cadets
The delegation had previously appeared before Council and received support for Provincial legislation that would give tax exempt status to the lands owned by the 62nd Grimsby Phantom Squadron Sponsoring Committee. The legislation is passed and now they appeared to request cancellation of taxes from 2020 forward and a rebate on the 2012-2020 taxes for the lands, including the period a church had owned it.

Councillor Bothwell had questions about the incorporation of the Sponsoring Committee and date of it’s charitable status. The ugly term “retroactivity” popped up again. The legislation allows for a rebate when the committee owned the land (and was incorporated), but it appears this occurred in 2013, yet the rebate request includes 2012.

Councillor Kadwell asked if the Region and DSBN was aware of the request for a tax break/rebate. Mr. Quirk stated that the Region is aware. Kadwell further asked if there was any back taxes owing, the delegation said the taxes on the “101” property are in good-standing.

Staff Report on Air Cadet Tax Exemption
This item was moved up from the agenda as it was a natural transition. Town Treasurer, Melanie Steele presented her report on the financial impacts of the Air Cadet request. She gave an overview of the events to date and presented four options ranging from full tax break and rebates up to giving no tax exemption/rebate at all.

Councillor Vardy put a motion on the floor to defer the matter requesting Town Staff provide a report on which other not-for-profits are or aren’t paying taxes to ensure consistency. The deferral motion was carried.

Delegation – Adam Mottershead – Municipal Act & Delegation of Authority
The delegate spoke and made a PowerPoint presentation about the Municipal Act in regards to who has the authority to dismiss statutory officers. This information was related to a motion later in the agenda requesting a legal opinion on the CAO’s dismissal of the Town’s Treasurer.

Mr. Mottershead outlined the text of the Municipal Act and the applicable section where it prohibits delegating the appointment or removal of statutory officers (eg. Clerk, Treasurer) to anyone. He stated that both the Municipal Act and Town Policy only allows Council to make such decisions through a formal By-Law.

Councillor Vardy commended the delegate on the presentation and said it provides context to “recent actions” and there was a need to “take a closer look at some things that happened in the past and see how they are corrected”.

Councillor Ritchie asked the delegate what the difference was between a By-Law and a contract. Ritchie further stated that a By-Law allows granting of contracts and that in those contracts there can be delegations of authority. Mr. Mottershead pointed out earlier in his presentation that the Municipal Act expressly prohibits the delegation of removing or appointing statutory officers.

Councillor Ritchie and his “curiousity” then took the leap into the bizarre, asking the delegate “I was just curious if you were in the closed session on March 31st?”. Mr. Mottershead displaying obvious signs of disbelief responded “How would I be in a closed session?”.

Evidenced by the embolalia in his speech, Councillor Ritchie appeared nervous and added “I’m just curious as to, you know, as to uh, there are statements here that maybe some things happened at the March 31st…”

Councillor Vardy raised a “point of order” and Councillor Ritchie did not yield and continued on saying “…so I am just curious if you are aware of that session or not?”. Councillor Vardy stated “I am very uncomfortable with what’s being insinuated”.

Recoiling in his question, he attempted a recovery and stated “I am just asking a question if he knew, maybe he talked to another Councillor”. Mayor Jordan stated “Councillor Ritchie, I don’t think anybody needs to answer that”.

For the record, there was no meeting on March 31st, 2021 but there was one on April 1st, 2021.

Fire Safety in Care Facilities
Fire Chief Bill Thompson spoke to Grimsby’s leadership in the area of fire safety in care facilities/retirement homes. In 2012 the Town passed a By-Law in response to large number of deaths due to fires in care facilities in various municipalities and became aggressive in education and enforcement.

The Province recognized this and has updated legislation based on the By-law and the work of the Town’s Fire Department. It was requested the By-Law be repealed as it now forms part of the Ontario Fire Code.

CAO Performance Appraisal Motion
Initially there was no discussion on this item, as it was largely discussed when attempting to adopt the agenda. Councillor Vardy requested a friendly amendment that the Clerk source a recommended consultant through the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators. Councillor Sharpe agreed to the amendment.

Councillor Ritchie stated Council would be the best body to appraise the CAO due to the setting of strategic priorities. He cited the January 11 response of Council as being indicative of Council’s approval of the CAO’s work and that a performance appraisal would incur a wage increase. Ritchie then put forth a motion to defer the report until January 2022, parroting what the CAO had requested earlier.

Defer CAO Performance Appraisal Until January 2022
YEAS – Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, Sharpe, Vaine
NAYS – Bothwell, Freake, Vardy, Jordan

Legal Opinion About Removal of An Individual From A Statutory Position Motion
Very interestingly, there was *no* real discussion on this motion apart from the comments made by Councillors Bothwell and Vardy during the Adoption of the Agenda on the importance of this item.

YEAS – Bothwell, Freake, Vardy, Jordan
NAYS – Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, Sharpe, Vaine

Correspondence – Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Municipal Code of
Conduct Consultations

The MMAH sent a letter to all Councils asking them to select a representative to take part in an online discussion session with the Ministry on strengthening Code of Conducts and penalties.

As discussion on the matter evolved, an interesting exchange occurred between Councillor Vaine, the Mayor and Councillor Sharpe.

It is rare that we can recycle content here, but again, it may be useful for Councillors to read re-read this section of the Procedural By-Law:

After Councillors Vardy, Ritchie, Freake and Kadwell put their names forward, Councillor Dunstall inquired if more than one person could attend. The Clerk stated she would inquire if the runner-up could attend. Councillor Kadwell received the most votes, with Councillor Vardy as the runner-up.

Closed Session – 153 Mud Street East
Council proceeded into closed session to discuss the site alteration appeal that was spoken to by the consultant at the beginning of the meeting. Once back in open session a motion was passed that “staff proceed as directed in closed session regards to Site Alteration appeal, 153 Mud Street East”.

Council Meeting
Other than passing of minutes and By-Laws, there was no substantive discussion.

And with that, this concludes another installment of Council Notes. Congrats if you made it all the way down here. Next meeting of Council is on May 17, 2021.