Update: Bylaw passes – Napanee Council to vote on new legislative services procedures

Napanee Town Hall. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Editorial note: This article has been updated since it was originally published on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at 1:32 p.m. Please see bottom of article for most recent update.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2023, the Council of the Town of Greater Napanee will vote on a new Legislative Services Procedure bylaw to replace bylaw 2008-58, which currently governs the calling, place, and proceedings of Council and Committees of Council, as well as the conduct of its members. 

According to Town Clerk Jessica Walters, Council and staff have been discussing these needed changes for about a year now. The most recent report from August 29, 2023, lists all of the changes in the greatest level of detail.  

The exhaustive list of changes includes some updates to definitions. For example, the new bylaw has changed the definition of ‘Committee’ to more clearly reflect how Committees of Council have been used. In this case, the requirement that at least 50 per cent of the membership on committees be elected officials has been removed.

Section 3, entitled ‘Principles,’ is new and lays out the principles that guide best practices for meetings and decision-making. It states that items not within Council’s jurisdiction will not be placed on agendas, and it affirms the principles of the Municipal Act and Council-Staff Relations Policy that the Council speaks as a majority through by-laws or resolutions.

Further updates take into account improved technology since the last procedural bylaw was written. For example, language has been updated to reflect that the website publication is the primary method of giving notice to the public, and references to physical copies of agendas to be provided have been removed. (Physical copies will still be provided if requested under the Town’s Accessibility Policies, but these are no longer the default.) Options have been provided for meetings to be moved to an alternative location, or held fully electronically, when circumstances warrant.

Some changes have been made to how deputations will be received. Specific topics of deputations are prohibited; this is based on best practices from other municipalities and primarily to reduce legal risk to the municipality, according to the report, but the report does not expand on what those topics are, nor why they are prohibited. The Clerk has the authority to refuse a deputation that does not meet the bylaw requirements or to reschedule deputations so that the time allotted for scheduled deputations and presentations does not exceed 30 minutes. There is no limit on the number of deputations permitted to speak for or against an agenda item, but where an exceedingly large number of deputations is expected or received, a special meeting may be called for the sole purpose of hearing them. 

For meetings of Council, a firm adjournment time of 10 p.m. has been added; each one-hour extension past that time will require a unanimous vote. The chair shall call a recess for a 10-minute wellness break approximately two hours into the meeting; this will not require a motion to be made.

As per the Public Notice Procedure Bylaw, a notice of Council’s intent to consider a revised Procedure Bylaw was published on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023,  in the Napanee Beaver and on the Town’s website.

Council will have the opportunity to discuss and approve the revised bylaw at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2023. The meeting can be viewed electronically on the Napanee Town Council YouTube channel or attended in person in Council Chambers at the Napanee Town Hall, 124 John Street. Further information about Council meetings is available on the Town’s CivicWeb site.

Update (Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023)

At their meeting held the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, Greater Napanee Town Council unanimously to pass a bylaw ushering in new rules for the order and procedure for the Council and its committees.

Nearing the end of the meeting, Councillor Dave Pinnell moved that ‘By-law No. 2023-0060 — Being a By-law to Provide Rules Governing the Order and Procedures of the Council and Committees of the Town of Greater Napanee and to Repeal By-law 2008-58’ be enacted, as amended. This was seconded by Councillor Angela Hicks.

Asked by Mayor Terry Richardson if there were any questions or discussion before the vote was called, Councillor Michael Schenk was the only member of Council to speak.

“There’s nothing in here about flag by-laws or anything else like this, in this whole document, correct?” he posed, having seemingly not read the multiple iterations of the recommended bylaw and reports around it that have been presented to Council over the past year or so.

“I don’t believe so, no,” the mayor replied.

The motion then passed unanimously.

It should be noted this is not the first time Councillor Schenk has voiced concern — jokingly or otherwise — about flag raising bylaws, having variously opposed the raising of Pride flags on municipal property in the past.

As always, the full agenda for the most recent meeting of Napanee Town Council can be read on the Town’s CivicWeb portal, and the meeting can be viewed in full on the Town of Greater Napanee YouTube channel.

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