Council Meeting - February 19, 2019
By Kirk Winter
Notices and Information from Councillors
Councillor O’Reilly shared that this week was National Scout and Girl Guide Week and praised the good work being done by these organizations. O’Reilly also shared that registrations for the Shamrock Sprint continue.
Councillor Richardson let Council know that the Bethany United Church will be hosting a spaghetti dinner over March Break. The first 100 diners will be served free. The church’s goal is to transition the facility into a “community centre” with doors open to all.
Councillor Ashmore informed Council that local veterinarian, Dr. James Mantle, has received a lifetime achievement award for his work in the field. Dr. Mantle is celebrating 40 years in practice this year.
The following municipal committees had their members appointed, and all will serve until December 31, 2022.
· Kawartha Lakes Airport Advisory Committee – three members
· Drainage Board – three members
· Development Charges Task Force – one member
· Downtown Revitalization Committee – two new members and the extension of two existing members
· Waste Management Advisory Committee – one member
Joan Abernethy shared her concerns regarding a City policy passed on December 11, 2018, which detailed how members of City committees and boards could be removed from their positions after a public complaint was made against their conduct while a member of that committee or board.
Ms. Abernethy stated that under the new Code of Conduct too much power is given to the accuser, and there is too little recourse for the accused. Abernethy believed that the new wording “removed the right of the accused members to hear charges against them.”
Abernethy argued that accused members should be able to gain access to all information on their case, and “should be able to respond to the accusation made against them.”
She asked that City policy be changed to reflect “citizens’ Charter rights.”
When the deputation was discussed later in the meeting, Councillors Dunn and Ashmore sided strongly with the deputant. Dunn, a former OPP officer, was very concerned about some of the language used in the new City policy, arguing that it was not strong enough to protect the accused. Dunn wanted to refer the issue back to legal staff to make sure that accused Committee members are protected from the potential of nuisance complaints. Dunn also wanted to make sure that volunteer committee members are as well protected as Council members.
Councillor O’Reilly and Mayor Letham felt that these concerns had been addressed in the changes made last December. CAO Taylor agreed saying that committee members had the same protection from public complaint as Council members.
The City solicitor was asked for her opinion on both the wording and the policy currently in place. The solicitor said that Councillor Dunn’s concern about wording was unnecessary. Dunn wanted to see all the “wills” replaced with “shalls” to better protect committee members. The City solicitor stated that both words carried the same legal weight in law.
Councillor Ashmore called for a recorded vote on whether the issue should be referred to staff for re-working, or left with the wording passed by Council in December.
By a vote of 5-4, the wording from December was to be left intact.
Council discussed the issue of a long-term rental agreement with Wilky’s Marina, located in Thurstonia.
Staff presented Council with three possible options for discussion:
1. The City would refuse to enter into negotiations and no new license would be issued
2. Negotiate a new lease only after the underground gas tank in question had been removed at the Marina’s expense
3. Negotiate a new lease allowing the gas tank to stay where it is for a defined period of time
Deputy Mayor Elmslie suggested that of the three options, Number Three was the most palatable, but still put too many restrictions on the upcoming negotiations with the marina owner. Councillor Ashmore supported that view.
Elmslie wanted the negotiations to be open-ended, and without imposed terms before talks even began.
Councillor Yeo was not satisfied with that option. Yeo stated that the City does not want the liability and responsibility of a potential gas tank clean up if there is a spill sometime in the future. Yeo was concerned that with the gas tank sitting under a City owned road allowance the liability for the City was a real issue moving forward.
After much discussion, Council voted to enter negotiations with the marina stating that sometime in the future the tank will be removed at the owner’s expense as a condition of a new lease.
Surplus Land – Elgin Street Park
Council decided that the property being surplused would go to auction, rather than be offered to just the current user, Lindsay Pontiac-Buick.
Appointment of an Integrity Commissioner
Bill 68, a piece of provincial legislation passed by the previous Liberal government, gave all municipalities in Ontario till March 1, 2019 to appoint an Integrity Commissioner.
The role of the Integrity Commissioner will be to investigate the conduct of councillors, committee members and staff members who may be in violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
Charles Harnek, representing the A.D.R Chambers Law Firm, will act as Integrity Commissioner for CKL. Harnek, a former Attorney General of Ontario, is well versed in the legislation and his appointment was supported by all present.
Customer Service- Council Orientation
Council sat through an hour-long presentation detailing the ways that the City is attempting to better respond to public complaints.
The presentation was a joint effort of the CAO, the Manager of Customer Services, the Manager of Communications and the Municipal By-law Enforcement department.
All presenters agreed that their primary goal was to improve customer service. The City has mandated that “providing exceptional customer service” is a core outcome for CKL.
The four Customer Service centers in Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Omemee and Coboconk deal with more than 100,000 walk-in visits or phone calls every year. Of that number, 6,809 were identified as concerns or complaints that needed to be acted on.
The City stated they were trying to make better use of their websites, and presence on social media to deal with issues as quickly and efficiently as they can. Website pages have been set up to easily connect residents to the appropriate City department so they can “report an issue” with relative ease.
Traffic on City platforms is increasing year over year, and from the questions and concerns being expressed City staff can gauge how good the City messaging and service is.
By-Law Enforcement and Licensing reported that they dealt with 2,300 complaints in 2018, mainly around issues of parking, domestic waste, property standards and animal control. The presentation shared that when citizens complain to their Councillors rather than By-Law Enforcement directly, it actually slows down the process of the issue being investigated as By-Law prefers to hear of the problem directly from the complainant.
By-Law Enforcement reminded Councillors that they will not act on anonymous complaints.
The presentation also detailed how the formal complaint process, generally directed against staff, would be handled.
Staff complaints would be handled by the appropriate department head, then the CAO and lastly the Mayor. Complaints against Council will be handled by the Integrity Commissioner. The final option open to complainants would be the Provincial Ombudsman.
Deputy Mayor Elmslie inquired about the City phone system, stating that if you didn’t know the extension for the person to whom you need to speak, the entire process could be quite confusing. Staff informed Elmslie that upgrades had been made to the phone system last year, and that there is now an easily accessible extension directory available to callers. Elmslie questioned that based on his own experiences with the telephone system, and staff promised to report back at the next meeting.
Staff concluded the presentation stating “that every year there would be a review of customer service because they wanted to learn from the data gathered.”