While Council had a light agenda this week, a few items were discussed at length.
One item that generated considerable discussion was that of the matter of attaining Leeds Gold standard for the JOC project. My thoughts are quite simple on this. In the original report to Council that outlined the funds to be expended towards achieving Leeds Gold standard, no challenges to attaining that standard were mentioned. However, now that we are at the end of the project we are hearing not only that there are challenges to achieve that status, but that it will cost and additional $9,650.00 more to be paid to the expert consultants in order to “try” to achieve Gold. And by “try” I mean that even in paying the additional $9,650 there is still no guarantee that we will in fact achieve the gold standard. Personally I believe that the added charge should fall squarely to the consultants as they were paid to provide a service – achieving Leeds Gold status for the JOC – and should have made clear what if any impediments there were/are to achieving that status. Informing us after the fact and then requiring more funds to meet the challenges is not satisfactory to me at least. With that being said, we have achieved silver standard which is quite good. The building itself is complete and has incorporated many energy saving and efficient aspects. The motion to increase funds was approved on a recorded vote 6-2 (Councillor Thompson and myself opposed)
Another item that generated discussion was a notice of motion before Council that spoke to the potential disclosure of specific closed session materials to the public. Waiving the procedural by-law, the notice of motion was brought forward for Council discussion at the meeting so as to address this important matter in as timely a manner as possible. While the general intent – openness and transparency as it speaks to closed session reporting – was appreciated, concern was raised about the specificity of the motion. While I absolutely agree that we as a council should be as open and transparent as possible, I along with others around the table were concerned that the motion before us focused on only one potential land transaction – and one that as Councillor Gaertner noted did not ultimately even proceed. In my opinion, for Council to be truly open and transparent when it speaks to closed session items, we should be looking at ALL items dealt with in camera. By that I mean, in my opinion, once any item has been dealt with and considered closed, then we should – whenever possible and subject to legal advice – fully disclose all aspects of what transpired so that the public fully understands the positions of the elected officials and the information upon which they have based their decisions/positions. So that is why I am glad that Councillor Gaertner amended the motion to refer it to the CAO to take an overarching review on how we as a council can fully disclose items that have been dealt with and completed, in closed session to the public so that they are made aware of the full conversations surrounding items that are being dealt with at Council. I am looking forward to the CAO’s Report …
The last item I’d like to note is that I am pleased to see that the terms of reference for the Design Review panel has been established and approved and that the town will be advertising for experts in specific fields interested in being a part of the DRP send in their applications. I am looking forward to the DRP doing some great work and helping staff move applications forward to Council in a more efficient way.