What would a GCFRG post-series be without a nod to The Beatles? That classic tune from the Sgt. Pepper’s album is the perfect lead-in on how the position of Chair of the Town’s “Heritage Grimsby Advisory Committee” was hijacked, not once… but twice.
Act I, Scene 1 – January 23, 2020
The Heritage Committee held their first meeting of 2020 on January 23, 2020 and as part of their annual procedure, discussed and proceeded to a vote on a new Chair and Vice-Chair. The minutes detail the following:
Councillor Dunstall moved the motion that Councillor Bothwell should be elected the Chair for 2020. The resolution was CARRIED and Bothwell became the duly-elected Chair of Heritage for that year, but that tenure would not last long.
Act I, Scene 2 – February 18, 2020
On February 18, 2020 Council was back in session for its regular meeting but it was apparent there was no love in the now-divided Council.
Councillor Dunstall kicked the “festivities” off by lifting the January Heritage Minutes from the meeting agenda. Councillor Sharpe and Vaine then began peppering Councillor Bothwell with various criticisms and questions, which she addressed and handled with ease and expertise.
Back at bat was Councillor Dunstall who began addressing the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair. After what he describes as “considerable thought” on the matter, he wanted or perhaps was advised to “throw (his) hat in the ring” to be considered as Chair, despite Bothwell having been elected by the Heritage Committee.
Councillor Bothwell clarified Dunstall’s misunderstanding of the reason for the election and explained that it was an annual event and a democratic election by the Committee.
Councillor Vaine spoke next and tipped his (or the G5’s) hand by saying he just had a comment and “I will have to vote one way or another”. Given that there was no such motion on the floor at that time, it is quite suggestive that what was unfolding was a pre-planned “play”. He went on to further critique Bothwell, saying Dunstall has been “around a lot longer” and “was on it [the Committee] the last time”.
As an aside, Councillor Dunstall’s “last time” was in the 2014-2018 term of Council which included the surprise dissolving of the Heritage Committee due to internal conflict. It was later resurrected as a shell of its former self.
Councillor Vardy spoke about Bothwell’s extensive experience and involvement in planning issues and that it would be improper to override the Heritage Committee’s decision on the Chair.
With no more comments/questions, the following resolution coming seemingly out of nowhere, was put forward:
The motion to replace Chair Bothwell as elected by the Commitee, with Dunstall was CARRIED by a G5 vote.
Whomever drafted that motion is an absolute amateur when it comes to procedural knowledge, as one can only correct errors in minutes not amend them with an event that did not happen… doing so is in effect changing history. Regardless of that gross oversight, the G5 replaced the duly-elected Bothwell with their man as Chair.
What made this whole move interesting, is that Dunstall initially made the motion for and supported Bothwell to be the Chair at Heritage. But why the sudden “considerable thought” to overthrow the Committee’s election of Bothwell?
At this juncture it is interesting to note that this Council meeting occurred just a little over a week after the controversial Special Council meeting where the G5 put the CAO, Harry Schlange, back to work despite allegations surrounding his workplace conduct.
Act II – March 9, 2021
The first regular meeting of 2021 for the Heritage Committee was on March 9, 2021. Suspiciously absent from the agenda was the annual election of the Chair and Vice-Chair. As a result of this Councillor Bothwell requested that an election item be added to the agenda.
The then-Director of Planning attempted to intervene and state that they had hoped to talk about it as part of the “Terms of Reference” item. Bothwell then asked the Chair if the item could be added or not, Dunstall refused her request. She then “appealed the Ruling of the Chair” which then resulted in the election be added.
The Committee elected Councillor Bothwell as the Chair and Kate Sharrow as Vice-Chair for 2021. It is interesting to note that these minutes declared the election as a “Recommendation of Chair & Vice-Chair” while years previous and subsequent refer to this as the “Election of Chair & Vice-Chair”.
Surprisingly this result was not challenged by Members of Council and Bothwell remained as the Chair for the rest of 2021.
Act III, Scene 1 – January 11, 2022
With 2022 on the calendar, the now-expanded Heritage Committee commenced the annual election of the Chair. Only Councillor Bothwell put her name forward for Chair and Kate Sharrow for Vice-Chair, Councillor Dunstall expressed no interest for either position. The Committee voted, passing the following motion:
Once again, Councillor Bothwell was elected by the Committee as Chair, but her tenure would not last. The minutes and decisions of that meeting were then forwarded to the Committee of the Whole.
Act III, Scene 2 – February 7, 2022 – Committee of the Whole
After the G5 decimated several of those Heritage Committee decisions at the January 19, 2022 Committee of the Whole, it seems that four members (nearly half) of the Heritage Committee had enough of the antics. They tendered their resignations, which were in the February 7th agenda.
Their letters addressed to the Mayor and Council are below:
Act III, Scene 3 – February 7, 2022 – Council
Heritage carried over to the Council meeting later that night. When other Members of Council attempted to lift and have those January 19th Committee of the Whole decisions on heritage revisited, G5 votes blocked those attempts.
To add insult to injury, but not surprisingly, they pulled an “encore” of their 2020 performance as a finale and put forth a motion on who should Chair the Committee going forward. Councillor Ritchie tried unsuccessfully to link the member resignations to Councillor’s Bothwell’s leadership as Chair, but as you saw not one of the letters had issue with the Chair.
Here’s the motion put forward:
At this point, you are probably guessing how the vote went, but in case you missed the intro post to the “G5” vote, here is “How They Voted?”:
|YEAS - REPLACE BOTHWELL|
|NAYS - KEEP BOTHWELL|
After the resignation of four members of the Committee and the departure of Councillor Bothwell, the Heritage Grimsby Advisory Committee has essentially ceased operation, only having a total of four meetings this year. It had many more per year even at the height of the pandemic.
Although the Ontario Heritage Act does not require municipalities to have a municipal heritage committee, it does permit one “to advise and assist the council on matters”. It is one of the few committees, especially under a Committee of the Whole system where regular citizens can decide and provide input on important matters, in this case heritage.
It becomes almost a pointless exercise, if a Council or in this case, five members of Council constantly override recommendations made by those dedicated residents and committee members. While some of those recommendations may clash with Town Staff recommendations, it does not mean those committee recommendations are wrong for our community.
But it goes to a higher degree of disdain when duly-elected Chairs of a committee are replaced with flimsy rationale or none at all. But that is politics for you… and now in election time, you can judge those actions.
If heritage is an important issue for you, take pause and give a thought as to actions of candidates in regards to the Heritage Committee and heritage in Grimsby. Cast your vote accordingly.