Another (second) Monday, another standard meeting of Council. Well… not really. The meeting at first appeared to be a very smooth flight through a decently-sized and almost blue-sky of an agenda. However at one point in the meeting, and to borrow a line from the film “Fight Club”, an announcement of “We’ve just lost cabin pressure” might have been appropriate.
Century Condos Approved
Although it’s been over a year since the September 15, 2020 Special Council meeting where Council and Homes By DeSantis thrashed out a settlement agreement for the Century Condos development, the project’s Site Plan Application appeared on the (virtual) desks of Council. Planning provided a thorough overview of the project and Council unanimously approved the Site Plan Agreement, the last major hurdle before shovels can go in the ground.
“The Spirits Festival”
Council members discussed “The Spirits Festival” an event being hosted by Grimsby’s own Canalside Soda. The festival is billed as an event to “showcase Ontario’s exceptional distillery and craft brewers”. Council members had concerns with the short notice of the event, which takes place on October 29th and 30th and the size and location of the event. After further discussion on concerns, Council voted to approve the event as being “municipally significant”.
Grimsby 2022 Centennial
While what is now-known as Grimsby was inhabited well before European settlers arrived on it’s shores, Grimsby only became a “Town” in 1922 although it was “founded” in 1790. The Director of Parks gave Council an overview of planned events to commemorate history and celebrating the Town’s legacy.
Sobie Sobye Road
Following up on the September 27 delegation and request to correct the spelling of Sobie Road to Sobye Road, Council had a short discussion and approved the correction. A forth-coming By-law will finalize the corrected name.
Firearms & Bows Discharge By-law
The repetitively deferred proposed By-law came back to the Committee of the Whole for another shot (pun intended) at passage. Despite some changes, Councillor Bothwell had issues with the mapping which would permit bow hunting within the urban boundary below the escarpment. An amendment was proposed to remove the bow hunting permission in the urban boundary, but it was defeated in a 4-4 vote (Councillor Vaine was absent for the meeting).
With the amendment defeated, the original motion which would include bow hunting in some urban areas was put to a vote. This too was defeated in a 4-4 vote. As it stands right now, the 1970’s By-law remains in effect.
Appointment of Auditors (Council Meeting)
Council re-visited the issue of the appointment of the Town’s financial auditors for 2021 and 2022. There was some substantial discussion of this issue at a previous Committee of the Whole meeting with some concerns that the process was not put out to tender. The vote to pass the By-law was defeated by a tie, 4-4.
The Main Event: Staff COVID-19 Vaccination Administrative Directive
This matter occurred earlier in the middle of the Committee of the Whole agenda, but for reporting purposes… always save the best for last. A report in the agenda detailed the CAO’s administrative directive on a vaccination status policy for Town staff. This was similar to other policies which many municipalities and other levels of government have already implemented.
Time for another Fight Club quote…”Please return your seatbacks to their full upright and locked position”. It was about to get bumpy, very bumpy. The CAO’s report and proposal, endorsed by every department head, the Town Clerk, Chief Librarian and Fire Chief did not sit well with a few members of Council.
Following the CAO speaking to the report, Mayor Jordan wanted to read a motion of his own but was met with resistance from Councillors Ritchie and Sharpe. At one point Councillor Sharpe proposed a motion to “excuse the mayor” but could not get a seconder. When the Mayor went to get a ruling on the issue from the Clerk, he further stated “the clerk does not give a ruling”. From the Procedural By-law:
Under Robert’s Rules, the Chair has the same rights as every other member including making a motion but should (not must) step down if they are to assume a side in the debate. The Town’s Procedural By-Law curtails that right and says the Mayor may not move or second a motion. The event unfolded as below:
Mayor Jordan stepped down from the Chair and had Councillor Dunstall (the current Deputy Mayor) assume the Chair so that the he could introduce his motion. The Mayor’s motion read as follows:
“Whereas Members of Council are not considered an employee of the municipal corporation;
And whereas Members of Council would not be considered as Staff under the COVID-19 Vaccination Status Administrative Directive;
And whereas Council Chambers is deemed a workplace;
And whereas Staff and all patrons’ health and safety must be protected in the workplace;
[And] whereas in-person meetings in the Council Chambers [is] deemed as working in a workplace and an indoor meeting space;
And whereas the Council, Committee and public have the option to attend meetings virtually;
Therefore it be resolved that Members of Council provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend in-person meetings to the Clerk;
And that the Committee members and public be required to show proof of vaccination upon entry for in-person meetings as long as public health vaccination recommendations in public spaces remains in place.”
Essentially it was motion to begin the process of allowing in-person Town meetings provided that Members of Council, Committee members and the public provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
First out of the (Zoom) box was Councillor Sharpe, who was very animated and directed harsh criticism at the CAO and his report, rather than the Mayor’s motion which was on the floor. At one point he accused the CAO of “making up” statistics and in an improper manner (as per the title of this post) says “I don’t know if you can subtract 93 and 97 from 100… it’s not 4 and 8… IT’S 3 AND 7”.
Here is the clip:
The CAO proceeded to respond to Councillor Sharpe’s concerns, but despite having a muted mic it was apparent he still had some points to make. This drew the attention of both Councillor Kadwell and Councillor Freake, as seen in the clip below:
Councillor Kadwell later raised the issue whether Council Members were “employees” as per the definition in CAO’s report. There was some discussion with the answer being that Council Members are not staff, they are not hired as employees.
As Councillor Freake offered his opinions on the subject, there was an interesting exchange that occurred between him and Councillor Ritchie… what is a meeting without a Point of Order?
After much further discussion bringing up points on both sides of the “vaccination” debate, the Mayor’s motion was put up for a vote.
YEAS – Voting For The Council/Public Vaccination Policy
Bothwell, Dunstall, Freake, Kadwell, Vardy and Jordan
NAYS – Voting Against The Council/Public Vaccination Policy
Ritchie and Sharpe
The motion was carried.
Acting Chair Dunstall relinquished the Chair back to the Mayor to further discuss the original report from the CAO. That further debate spoke about costs, accommodations, measures that might be taken against non-complying employees and the role of Council in deciding policy.
Councillor Vardy put a motion on the floor, seconded by Councillor Ritchie to have the CAO bring a draft policy based on “provided comments” of Council. There was further deep discussion including the Occupational Safety and Health Act and testing techniques before the actual vote.
YEAS – Wanting A New Policy From the CAO
Dunstall, Freake, Ritchie, Sharpe and Vardy
NAYS – Not Wanting A New Policy From the CAO
Bothwell, Kadwell, and Jordan
The motion for the CAO to come up with a new policy was carried.
It was a long and tiresome debate to watch as a spectator. However, if you made it all the way down here and have the appetite to watch the 1+ hour discussion, you can do so below starting at 1:56:53: