City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the March 22 Meeting?

In a special meeting of city council, there’s only one topic to be discussed, and that’s city council itself. City council has rules, and every now and then they have to be reviewed by the clerks office, and now the time has come this term’s halfway point check-in for the ways and means of conducting council business. So what changes are being proposed?

NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting via telephone, but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on March 19. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.

NOTE #2: The meeting will be closed to the public, though it will be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.

2018-2022 Mid-term Governance Review – It’s a little late this time, but at the halfway point of every term of city council, the clerks office does a review of the Procedural Bylaw, which is the set of rules meant to guide the work of city council, including when and how they operate. The bylaw outlines the times that council operates, what things can be included in the agenda, how many members of council need to be present for a meeting, and when and how it’s appropriate for members of the public to delegate.

Some of the changes are simple. There are stylistic or grammatical changes, the “consolidated agenda” is now the “revised agenda”, and new definitions were created for “defamatory” and “obscene”, both in regards to comments and gestures made in the council chamber.

Another section fine tunes the rules of quorum by making a change that says if a meeting loses quorum, it’s recessed until quorum can be re-established. If there’s no quorum for 30 minutes, the meeting will be adjourned until the next regular meeting or until a special meeting date can be established. This will be an important clause in the event that there’s a massive technical failure during a virtual meeting.

One of the bigger changes is to the policy regarding petitions, which people will now be able to submit under the new changes to the bylaw. Written and electronic petitions are both able to be submitted; petitions related to a subject on the council agenda will need to be submitted before the deadline for delegation materials, while all other petitions will be included in council items for information.

Another big change is the procedure for bringing a Notice of Motion to council. Now, only the relevant committee chair will have to sign off on the motion instead of the chair and a Deputy CAO. Once approved, the notice will appear at the next meeting of the appropriate committee at a Committee of the Whole, and can then be ratified later in the month. The timeline for the process should now be shortened to take just one month.

The report also recommends that service area chairs start chairing Committee of the Whole meetings again starting with April’s meeting.

It’s also worth noting that there are a couple of items that did not make the finished revisions even though they were brought up in the community engagement. Video delegations and the recording of votes electronically are two items that will require more study, and it will require some work to fine tune the technology. There were other ideas shared with the clerks office too, and though they might have been good ideas, they require further staff work to figure out how to implement them.

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