New rules cause ruckus at Bay Roberts coun­cil

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A pro­posed rules of pro­ce­dure doc­u­ment pro­duced some heated de­bate at the Feb. 10 regular coun­cil meet­ing for the Town of Bay Roberts.

Coun. Char­lene Dawe-Roach didn’t like a num­ber of points laid out in the doc­u­ment, in­clud­ing those re­lat­ing to a dress code, coun­cil­lor deco­rum, the use of cell phones, the se­lec­tion of com­mit­tees and the use of ‘your wor­ship’ when ad­dress­ing the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer dur­ing a mo­tion.

Coun­cil later passed a mo­tion to adopt the doc­u­ment, with four votes sup­port­ing the mo­tion and two votes against it.

“The stan­dard dress code is … busi­ness ca­sual. Not a prob­lem,” said Dawe-Roach. “I have great is­sue with a de­scrip­tion of busi­ness ca­sual down to a golf shirt or a polo shirt with a belt. So, if some­one comes in with­out a belt, sir, that’s in con­tention with the dress code. But, who is go­ing to en­force it?

“I don’t think re­ally a per­son’s dress code where it’s nice and, yeah, it’s pro­fes­sional, but I don’t think it re­ally re­flects what ben­e­fit that per­son may or may not con­trib­ute to coun­cil.”

Dawe-Roach went on to ques­tion the di­rec­tive that “all cell tele­phones or other com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices, with the ex­cep­tion of iPad’s or com­puter equip­ment pro­vided for the con­duct of meet­ings, must be turned off prior to the com­mence­ment of all meet­ings.”

“That’s a point that is a grey area with Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs,” she said.

Mean­while, Coun. Ge­orge Sim­mons re­quested coun­cil push vot­ing to adopt the doc­u­ment as he “would like more time to sit and dis­cuss it” as a coun­cil.

Pre­vi­ously, coun­cil re­quested that chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Nigel Black and town clerk Christine Brad­bury de­vise a doc­u­ment out­lin­ing a set of rules and reg­u­la­tions for mem­bers to abide by dur­ing meet­ings.

Changes

In the view of other coun­cil mem­bers, there were some changes for the good con­tained in the doc­u­ment. One ex­am­ple high­lights by the mayor was the op­tion to meet as a com­mit­tee of the whole.

Those are meet­ings where at­ten­dance is limited to coun­cil­lors and at their dis­cre­tion, the manager/clerk and/or spec­i­fied staff.

“This is the first time we’ve had this,” said Mayor Philip Wood.

Ex­ces­sive

Dawe-Roach felt the ma­jor­ity of the doc­u­ment’s con­tents were ex­ces­sive

“I agree that it is repet­i­tive on most points with the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act and the things that are in here, but not in leg­is­la­tion are poli­cies that gives the mayor or the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer com­plete author­ity to do to things that aren’t stip­u­lated in the Act.”

She took is­sue with a pro­posed rule gov­ern­ing how coun­cil mem­bers would be se­lected to serve on com­mit­tees. In the rules of pro­ce­dure as pro­posed by the town, “coun­cil­lors shall be ap­pointed to the com­mit­tees by the mayor at the first coun­cil meet­ing fol­low­ing a gen­eral elec­tion and shall be changed by the mayor on or be­fore Dec. 31 of the sec­ond year of coun­cil’s term of of­fice.”

It adds, “the mayor shall hold all rea­son­able dis­course with coun­cil­lors prior to their ap­point­ment to com­mit­tees.”

“This is one of the grey ar­eas when it comes to the Mu­nic­i­pal­ties Act,” said Dawe-Roach. “I don’t know if we, as a coun­cil, have the author­ity to give (the mayor) the power to do that.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Act, “a town coun­cil may es­tab­lish the stand­ing or spe­cial com­mit­tees that it con­sid­ers de­sir­able to con­sider and make rec­om­men­da­tions on mat­ters re­ferred to them by the coun­cil.”

As well as, “a town coun­cil may ap­point per­sons to serve on a com­mit­tee es­tab­lished un­der subsec­tion (1) and where a coun­cil does not ap­point per­sons to a com­mit­tee, the mayor shall ap­point those per­sons.”

Counter points

Once Dawe-Roach fin­ished voic­ing her dis­plea­sure with parts of the doc­u­ment, Coun. Dean Franey of­fered his thoughts.

“In terms of the cell phone, I took that more as don’t play with your phone dur­ing meet­ings,” he said. “Most of th­ese rules, I thought they were in place any­way to be hon­est.”

Meant to com­ple­ment

Ac­cord­ing to Black, the doc­u­ment is meant com­ple­ment what is laid out in the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act. It does not go against it, but at­tempts to clear up any vague ar­eas of the Act, he said.

“The pur­pose of our rules is to clar­ify things that are not stated in the Act,” said Black. “The Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act is ei­ther si­lent on things or it is am­bigu­ous and gen­er­ally how that sit­u­a­tion is dealt with is that coun­cil will set out in their rules of pro­ce­dure … in terms of how we do things.’

A dis­cus­sion about pos­si­bly amend­ing por­tions of the doc­u­ment is ex­pected to take place at a fu­ture meet­ing.

Dawe-Roach

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