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West Nipissing mayor hopes returning to chambers will calm council

Another meeting was cancelled, and municipal work is piling up
West Nipissing Empty Council Chambers
Will the West Nipissing council chamber soon echo with discussion of municipal business? / Photo from Municipality of West Nipissing

West Nipissing council has not been firing on all cylinders these past few weeks. Arguments flare and infighting continues. Meetings have been adjourned abruptly, councillors have left meetings without permission, and apologies demanded have not been given.

On Monday a special meeting of council was called but did not begin due to lack of quorum.

Tonight, a regular meeting is scheduled, and Mayor Joanne Savage hopes council can work through the agenda, unlike the past two regular meetings which ended after about 20 minutes.

Mayor Savage believes reconvening members to town hall might help council get back to work. She plans to raise the point at tonight’s meeting.

“I believe its time for council to reconvene in person,” Mayor Savage explained in a recent statement. The space “can easily be reconfigured to allow a safe environment for all,” she added.

More so, she anticipates a return to in-person meetings “will eliminate issues” regarding the “lack of etiquette observed by constituents.”

“Every day I am asked questions from constituents regarding what is going on” with council, she explained.

See: West Nipissing council at standstill, residents losing patience

The mayor’s release also addressed recent issues occurring at council, particularly, that of the apology, which stems from a September 7 meeting.

That meeting saw a debate regarding possible sanctions for a councillor who contravened the municipality’s code of conduct.

The integrity commission was called in for that case. He investigated, and recommended an apology from the councillor be sent to all council members. The report from this investigation was tabled to council during their June 15 meeting.

Back to that September 7 meeting, the debate heated, and “a councillor was called to order twice for disruptions” Mayor Savage reminded, demonstrating “inappropriate behaviour and disrespect” which “was the reason why the councillor was asked to vacate the meeting.”

After the mayor asked councillor Roland Larabie to leave, three others left without consent. Mayor Savage explained that such an exit is grounds for an apology to council, and those apologies have yet to come.

See: West Nipissing councillors vote against suspending Fisher’s pay, four leave meeting and destroy quorum

“Why do we have rules governing council’s proceedings?” she asked. “Why are reasons sought not to provide apologies to council or our constituents for wrongdoing?”

She added that “the rules governing council’s proceedings exist for a reason. They’ve worked in the past and should work today.”

Regarding those councillor apologies that never come, Mayor Savage mentioned that “refusing to provide an apology means it’s ok to breach rules and not be accountable for one’s action.”


David Briggs

About the Author: David Briggs

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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