At its meeting on Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2023, the Council of the Town of Greater Napanee will vote on a new Legislative Services Procedure bylaw to replace bylaw 2008-58, which currently governs the calling, place, and proceedings of Council and Committees of Council, as well as the conduct of its members.
According to Town Clerk Jessica Walters, Council and staff have been discussing these needed changes for about a year now. The most recent report from August 29, 2023, lists all of the changes in the greatest level of detail.
The exhaustive list of changes includes some updates to definitions. For example, the new bylaw has changed the definition of ‘Committee’ to more clearly reflect how Committees of Council have been used. In this case, the requirement that at least 50 per cent of the membership on committees be elected officials has been removed.
Section 3, entitled ‘Principles,’ is new and lays out the principles that guide best practices for meetings and decision-making. It states that items not within Council’s jurisdiction will not be placed on agendas, and it affirms the principles of the Municipal Act and Council-Staff Relations Policy that the Council speaks as a majority through by-laws or resolutions.
Further updates take into account improved technology since the last procedural bylaw was written. For example, language has been updated to reflect that the website publication is the primary method of giving notice to the public, and references to physical copies of agendas to be provided have been removed. (Physical copies will still be provided if requested under the Town’s Accessibility Policies, but these are no longer the default.) Options have been provided for meetings to be moved to an alternative location, or held fully electronically, when circumstances warrant.
Some changes have been made to how deputations will be received. Specific topics of deputations are prohibited; this is based on best practices from other municipalities and primarily to reduce legal risk to the municipality, according to the report, but the report does not expand on what those topics are, nor why they are prohibited. The Clerk has the authority to refuse a deputation that does not meet the bylaw requirements or to reschedule deputations so that the time allotted for scheduled deputations and presentations does not exceed 30 minutes. There is no limit on the number of deputations permitted to speak for or against an agenda item, but where an exceedingly large number of deputations is expected or received, a special meeting may be called for the sole purpose of hearing them.
For meetings of Council, a firm adjournment time of 10 p.m. has been added; each one-hour extension past that time will require a unanimous vote. The chair shall call a recess for a 10-minute wellness break approximately two hours into the meeting; this will not require a motion to be made.
As per the Public Notice Procedure Bylaw, a notice of Council’s intent to consider a revised Procedure Bylaw was published on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in the Napanee Beaver and on the Town’s website.
Council will have the opportunity to discuss and approve the revised bylaw at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2023. The meeting can be viewed electronically on the Napanee Town Council YouTube channel or attended in person in Council Chambers at the Napanee Town Hall, 124 John Street. Further information about Council meetings is available on the Town’s CivicWeb site.