Report on the April 2 Council meeting

A New Deputy Mayor, Good Discussions and a Strange Request:  the Mississippi Mills Council meeting on April 2, 2019

by Theresa Peluso

The title of this report pretty well sums up the April 2 Council meeting.  On the whole, this meeting proceeded constructively, with just one bizarre incident. Here’s how the evening unfolded.

First of all, we learned from the report about the “in camera” meeting preceding the Council meeting, that a new interim fire chief, Steve Giberson, has been appointed. So we can be confident that our municipality now has in place the necessary resources to handle any emergencies for the next while until a permanent replacement is found.

The start of the actual Council meeting began with a warm welcome to our new Deputy Mayor, Rickey Minnille, who gave a short speech of appreciation and a promise to fulfill his mandate to represent our municipality well and help it prosper.  So far, so good.

But then, no sooner had the delegation from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) finished their presentation, than Councillor Guerard put forward – out of the blue – a motion that challenged Mayor Lowry’s decision to chair both the Committee of the Whole meeting and the Council meeting proper.  This motion was immediately seconded by Councillor Maydan, making it appear that both councillors had planned this challenge beforehand.  Keep in mind that both these councillors, as well as Councillor Dalgity, are neophytes, that our Deputy Mayor had only just been welcomed on Council, and that veteran Councillor Ferguson seemed perfectly satisfied with the status quo. In other words, it certainly made sense to me that Mayor Lowry chairs both meetings, and the general consensus is that she does an excellent job of being impartial and thorough. So what was intended?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The agenda item discussing the movie filming taking place on Mill Street went without a hitch.  The explanations were thorough, and questions from several of the councillors were constructive and showed that they had done their homework.  The same can be said of the discussions concerning the agenda item on workplace harassment and violence policies, and about the decision to target possible provincial funding for infrastructure to repair the Levi bridge in Pakenham.

Likewise for the lengthy final approval process for the Community Official Plan (COP).  All the Director of Planning’s recommendations were approved, except for the last item, regarding designating the block of land in the southeast quadrant of Almonte for development.  A few councillors were concerned about pockets of prime agricultural land in that designated block being developed and, in my opinion, rightly so.  As we know, agricultural land everywhere is being developed, or under threat of development, at a time when global food security is becoming an ever-increasing concern.  Although the approval process of this COP took time, all the questions and responses were well-considered and provided everyone in attendance with a much better understanding of the plan, and appreciation for just how capable and highly articulate our Director of Planning is.

In conclusion, this particular Council meeting was well run, informative, and except for the bizarre motion put forward by two councillors, a great example of good governance.