Council puts out welcome mat to city’s 12 boards
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.