A committee: a group that keeps minutes and loses hours


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Now that he has officially tabled his motion, we can approach Dave Warden on the motivation behind adding another alderman to the council mix.
We wrote at length about this proposed change to the structure of council last week and in a conversation with Ald. Warden on Tuesday, he filled in some of the blanks.
Most important, Warden stressed, he is not going to support his own motion when it comes up for discussion on July 15.
“In fact I will withdraw it if council will deal with the bigger and more costly system we are presently working under – the committee system – which needs to be overhauled.”
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Should we be feeding one more at the council table?


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Well, this one comes right out of the blue. Tucked away at the back end of Monday’s council agenda is a notice of motion from Ald. David Warden that council consider increasing the number of aldermen to eight from the current seven.
It won’t be debated at that time but will come up for discussion at the lone July council meeting.
Much like the wrangling over the process of filling the vacant seat on council, the timing of this motion has an off odor to it.
Call for change in the middle of summer when many residents are on holiday or their attention is diverted elsewhere.
I can hear it now: Members are overworked with committee proceedings they have to deal with. Having another body on board will ease the strain.
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Homelessness is a reality in St. Thomas and Elgin


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It is estimated there are between 100 and 300 youth who are homeless at any given time, with a significant portion of these youth staying with friends for the short term.
This depressing picture is lifted from a draft copy of the 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan for St. Thomas-Elgin developed by a steering committee of city staff and members of social agencies in conjunction with Tim Welch Consulting of Cambridge, Ont.
The report prepared by Elizabeth Sebestyen, the city’s housing services administrator, will be presented to council Monday with a recommendation it adopt the plan which articulates “the community’s long-term vision for the provision of housing and homelessness services over the next ten years, including a system for review and amendments every five years.”
The city is mandated under the province’s Housing Services Act 2011 to have such a plan in place by the end of this year.
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Does vacant seat process ‘enhance’ council integrity?


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As referenced last week in this corner John Maddox, the city’s closed meeting investigator, has found no wrong-doing in the process undertaken to bring back Cliff Barwick to fill the seat vacated by Sam Yusuf at the end of April.
In his report to council, precipitated by a complaint from Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands, Maddox concludes, “I have not been able to find any substantive evidence that there in fact was a ‘private’ gathering of any sort that would suggest a closed meeting took place.”
The complaint from Baldwin-Sands suggests the faction on council known as the “Barwick 4” – Mayor Heather Jackson and aldermen Gord Campbell, Tom Johnston and Dave Warden – convened an illegal closed meeting of council.
She could not identify any specific meeting that may have taken place, but felt the process employed by the Barwick 4 on May 6 to fill the vacant seat raised suspicions that some “collaboration may have taken place between a group of council members that could be deemed to have been a meeting and in fact closed to some members of council.”
Of note, Maddox indicates he has received “numerous telephone calls regarding this matter and the process that was followed by council – all of the callers had some degree of objection to the process and outcome.”
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