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On May 30, 2017, Royal assent was given to Provincial Bill 68.  This made changes in Legislation that governs Municipalities and these changes are being presented to Council on August 21 for their consideration.  The changes include a large number of requirements including a “Code of Conduct”, expanding when meetings can be closed session and a number of other things – see below. In addition, a proposal is being made to authorize the CAO to make large financial decisions during  the Council’s “Lame Duck” period in late 2018.

Changes to Municipal Act

Council Codes of Conduct – this was done in Cobourg on January 23, 2015 but it must now be expanded to include Advisory committees and the DBIA Board.

Integrity Commissioner – Cobourg implemented this requirement in 2016 although there are now some additional tasks for the commissioner.

Council/Municipal Staff Relations Policy – A new policy would be required.

Meeting Provisions

The definition of meeting has been clarified:

"meeting” means any regular, special, or other meeting of a Council, of a Local Board or of a committee of either of them, where:
(a) a quorum is present, and
(b) members discuss or otherwise deal with any matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of the Council, Local Board or Committee.
Electronic Participation – presumably this means by phone or Skype video or similar.  This is now allowed although such participation would not count towards a quorum.

Closed Meetings Bill 68 also expands on the categories of matters that a Municipal Council may consider in a Closed Session to include:

  • information explicitly supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board by Canada, a province or territory or a Crown agency of any of them;
  • a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board, which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization;
  • a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, or financial information that belongs to the municipality or local board and has a monetary value or potential monetary value; or
  • a position, plan, procedure, criteria or instruction to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of the municipality or local board.

More

County Council Appointment of an Alternate – currently if Gil cannot attend a County Council meeting, no-one replaces him. Now an alternate can be named.

Policy for Pregnancy and Paternal Leaves for Members of Council – a new policy is required – pregnancy (etc) must not cause a vacancy on Council.

Policy on Tree Canopy and Natural Vegetation – the expected policy that will come out of the Urban Forestry Master Plan is now mandatory.

Broaden Authority to Use Administrative Monetary Penalties. Currently fines may be levied only for infractions of parking and licensing by-laws.  Other infractions are referred to a court.  The change will expand the ability to fine for infractions of any municipal bylaw.

Environmental Standards for the Construction of Buildings - Towns can now mandate green standards respecting the construction of buildings, such as green roofs or alternative roof surfaces.

New Broad Power to Deal with Climate Change The Municipal Act, 2001 was strengthened to provide long term planning for energy use, including consideration of energy conservation, climate change and green energy.

Changes to Municipal Conflict of Interest Act

Bill 68 adds:

  • A list of principles
  • Allows a member who has contravened requirements to participate in discussions about a penalty
  • Requires that any declared conflict of interest be documented
  • Clarifies the procedure to get a judge involved in a contravention and
  • Expands penalties available to a judge.

Changes to Municipal Elections Act

Term of Municipal Office.  Currently, after an election, the new Council takes office on December 1.  Effective 2022, this date will change to November 15 (the date in 2018 will be December 1). This amendment was implemented as an effort to shorten the potential lame duck period between when the existing Council is still sitting and the new Council takes office.

Campaign Contributions. Limits have been revised.

Lame Duck Concern

In the 2018 Municipal election, the Nomination day is July 27, 2018 and the election day will be October 22.  On nomination day, it will be officially known how many councillors are stepping down – that is, not running for re-election.  If there are fewer than 75% running for re-election, then the Council is in a “Lame Duck” position from July 27 to October 22.  Likewise, if less than 75% of incumbents are actually re-elected, the Council is “Lame Duck” from October 22 to December 1.

That means that the actions of Council are limited. 

It cannot:

  • Hire or fire employees;
  • Sell anything with a value over $50,000;
  • Make an expenditure of more than $50,000.

There are exceptions for emergencies or if the amount is included in an approved budget and authority can be “delegated to a person or body prior to Nomination Day for the election of the new Council.”

At the next Committee of the Whole meeting on August 21, Deputy Clerk Brent Larmer proposes that Council authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to be that person.

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