Coun­cil puts out wel­come mat to city’s 12 boards

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - MEGAN STACEY

Lon­don city hall could get a whole lot busier.

Coun­cil took the pres­sure off the po­lice ser­vices board on Tues­day, vot­ing to ex­tend an in­vi­ta­tion to all of the city’s 12 boards and com­mis­sions to hold their meet­ings at 300 Duf­ferin Ave.

What be­gan as a push from Coun. Mo Salih to break down bar­ri­ers and in­crease trans­parency of po­lice board meet­ings by mov­ing them to city hall be­came some­thing of a free-for-all Tues­day night as coun­cil de­cided to of­fer the same deal to a dozen groups.

The city’s boards and com­mis­sions in­clude ev­ery­thing from the Lon­don Pub­lic Li­brary to the Mid­dle­sex-Lon­don Health Unit to the Ket­tle Creek Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity, which is head­quar­tered in St. Thomas.

Coun. Jesse Helmer sug­gested the broader in­vi­ta­tion wasn’t very prac­ti­cal and might even be of­fen­sive.

“I don’t know why we’re wast­ing our time invit­ing groups that will say no,” he said.

“There’s not much harm, I guess, in ex­tend­ing an in­vi­ta­tion. I don’t think there’s go­ing to be much up­take from El­don House or Ket­tle Creek Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity.”

Deputy Mayor Paul Hu­bert went even fur­ther, say­ing “300 Duf­ferin is not the epi­cen­tre of our com­mu­nity.”

Ex­tend­ing the in­vi­ta­tion to board and com­mis­sions also raises the ques­tion of time and space. If all 12 moved their gath­er­ings to city hall, they’d be vy­ing with city coun­cil and com­mit­tee meet­ings, not to men­tion ad­vi­sory com­mit­tees and work­ing groups, that al­ready hold their meet­ings there.

But the amend­ment passed 8-5, with Mayor Matt Brown and coun­cil­lors Salih, Helmer, Tanya Park and Jared Zaif­man vot­ing against it. Michael van Holst and Anna Hop­kins were ab­sent, and all oth­ers voted in favour of invit­ing the full list of boards and com­mis­sions to hold meet­ings at city hall.

Salih orig­i­nally brought for­ward the idea to move po­lice board meet­ings, sug­gest­ing city hall may be less in­tim­i­dat­ing to spec­ta­tors than po­lice head­quar­ters. The move also would al­low the po­lice board to live stream their meet­ings.

The po­lice ser­vices board chair Jean­nette Eber­hard said last week the board doesn’t take di­rec­tion from coun­cil, but said the idea of mov­ing meet­ings would be fully de­bated if raised by a mem­ber of the po­lice ser­vices board. She also noted that meet­ings could be live streamed from meet­ing rooms at po­lice head­quar­ters.

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