Last night’s West Nipissing council meeting was cancelled due to absent council members, and now a petition is circulating to hold council “accountable to their duties.”
The petition was launched yesterday by Lynn Murphy and has over 400 signatures.
She intends to submit the petition to Steve Clark, the minister of municipal affairs and housing and to John Vanthof, the MPP for Temiskaming district.
“Residents need to hold our elected officials accountable to their duties as elected officials,” Murphy outlines in her petition, noting residents “require the assistance of our provincial government to investigate and intervene in the misconduct displayed” by council.
As for last night’s December 7 meeting, Mayor Joanne Savage reached out by email to explain it was cancelled due to lack of quorum.
Councillors Chris Fisher, Roland Larabie, Leo Mallette and Dan Roveda “are refusing to attend” she added.
These four councillors also skipped the last meeting, citing concern over a human resources issue placed on the agenda by Mayor Savage, an item they thought might have been discussed in public rather than in-camera.
“They want a motion removed from the agenda,” Mayor Savage said, and “any actions dealing with this motion” such as “removal, withdrawal, etc., needs to be voted by council at a meeting.”
“The entire situation is a disservice to taxpayers,” the mayor added.
Much business has been simmering on council’s backburner, and cancelling meetings prevents these issues from moving forward.
The municipal vaccination policy still needs to be ratified, a draft plan for a subdivision approval on Deer Lake Road has been on the books since November 16, and the issue of what to do with the public water tap at Verner’s arena remains wide open.
As of late, the council meetings “are a disaster,” Murphy said, adding she hopes bringing her petition to “a higher level” will “help our municipality get these issues resolved.”
Murphy also emphasized that council has neglected to replace Jeremy Seguin, who served on council as the representative for Verner.
Seguin resigned in July of 2020, noting in his resignation letter how “our council has become nothing less than toxic and dysfunctional,” so much so he questioned, “if the democratic process is still in place.”
Murphy maintains that “issues such as these have been systemic before this current elected group,” and residents are ready “to show we are not having this anymore, and that we are demanding this be resolved in a professional manner with the help of the provincial Municipal Affairs.”
“We will no longer sit by and watch our municipal council bring down our community,” she said.
“This is not beyond local,” Murphy emphasized, “we need the province to intervene and assist us to resolve this.”
“We live in an amazing community,” she said, “with a lot of heart,” filled with people who “get involved when the going gets tough.”
“That’s what sets us apart,” Murphy said, “and I don’t want any one of us to forget that.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.