Council to make changes to its Procedural Bylaw

by Colin Smith

Morinville Town Council will have more latitude to reopen issues if a revised version of its Procedure Bylaw is accepted, while at the same time that ability will be more closely defined.  The draft Procedure Bylaw was presented to Council by the Administration at its Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 16.

One substantial change to the bylaw, which sets out the procedures that Council follows organizationally and in its meetings, is in the treatment of failed motions.

In the current bylaw, motions that have been voted down cannot be reintroduced before a general election has been held or a year has passed.

The draft bylaw allows a motion to be reintroduced if a two-thirds majority of Council is favours that.

A two-thirds majority of Councillors present at the meeting would also be required for a motion to rescind or amend a measure previously passed, in emergent situations where the usually required written notice was not practical.

The bylaw would also enable a Councillor who has moved a motion to move an amendment to it, which is currently not allowed.

Other amendments alter terminology and recognize organizational changes that have been made.

The spur for changing the procedure bylaw was a motion to amend the current bylaw made by Councillor Stephen Dafoe at the January 12 Council meeting, following a Notice of Motion.

The motion would have added the words “or bylaw” to sections of the Procedure Bylaw that deal with bringing up failed motions again and rescinding or amending motions previously adopted, which Dafoe described as a loophole.

The issue originated at a November 13 Special Meeting where Council approved a mandatory face covering bylaw for Morinville. A similar previous bylaw had been defeated at its September 22 meeting.

“My concern that led to my Notice of Motion stemmed from our Mayor allowing someone on the losing side of a motion to reintroduce the item at a special meeting for consideration,” he said.

“Procedurally that is wrong in my opinion, and the legal argument at the time was that because the procedural bylaw did not specify bylaw, it was okay. That was a convenient loophole that I sought to close that day and subsequently by my notice of motion.”

At the January 12 meeting Council voted to refer Dafoe’s motion to the Committee of the Whole meeting and have Administration bring forward the Procedures Bylaw for discussion and consideration of the changes recommended at a parliamentary procedure workshop presented by Todd Brand Consulting on December 7.

Dafoe said the changes went some way to meeting his concerns.

“Including a two-thirds majority support requirement moves us in the right direction,” he said. “It satisfies much of what I’m looking to achieve in the Notion of Motion by providing majority control instead of a potential small clique control.”

According to information presented by the Administration, the bylaw was drafted after a review of advisory notes provided by Todd Brand Consulting after the parliamentary workshop.

“Administration recommends that in any bylaw of the municipality, the language of the bylaw make the intent clear while providing Council the flexibility to make decisions for evolving or emergent situations which were not considered or foreseeable at the time the bylaw was approved,” it stated.

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