Response to Cobourg deputy mayor’s report to council on meeting times

By Robert Washburn

Thanks to the BurdReport for posting the report Deputy Mayor Stan Frost will present to council tonight defending the proposal to switch council’s meeting time to 4 p.m., from 7 p.m.

First, the mayor argues the change is part of the strategic plan, under the objective calling for improved municipal policies and practices. Sorry, this is not an improvement. He says the gap between the end of the workday and the start time of council meetings is not an optimum use of time by staff and the public. There is not sufficient explanation why that is motivation enough for the change. Public servants have done this for years. Why is it suddenly a problem? There is more to this than the public is being told.

It continues to be a mystery why staff is not happy. You would think this is part of the job description of a senior staff person and directors? If it is part of their job, again, why the concern?

Next, the deputy mayor ignores his own public input by saying the results are inconclusive. What! A majority does not want a change. Listening to citizens has nothing to do with what time meetings are held. It is about being open to public input. Obviously, he has an agenda and is not prepared to hear any objection.

Then, he confuses passively watching council meetings on TV with attending meetings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody can give a deputation while watching a rerun of a meeting at 8 p.m. You have to be in the chambers. And, if that is not convenient than that input is lost and our democracy is eroded.

He also seems to think that poor attendance is a sign no one wants to participate. Instead of moving times, why does council not take initiative to do outreach to enhance attendance in the evening?

Frost is anti-family and anti-democratic. He does not want to see or engage people, especially working people who cannot make the earlier time. Forget about those who wish to serve on council. That is just a straw man, meant to distract from the core issues. If someone wants to run for council, they know what is involved. At least, it is their responsibility to find out.

What really matters is that those with a family can come home, eat dinner with their kids and come to a meeting, if they want. Frost is closing the door to those people. Plain. Simple.

Finally, the BurdReport argues the deputy mayor has no benchmarks to decide in three months if this is a success or not.

Council needs to vote this down for the sake of working families and democracy. Plain. Simple.

  • Deb OConnor

    Tonight’s meeting was excellent, we got what we came for. It was very reassuring that the only ones who voted for the meeting time change were the Deputy Mayor and Forrest Rowden, two gentlemen who clearly want to be at home in their jammies by seven pm, bed by nine.

    Next step is to persuade Council to add a question period for residents at Council meetings, maybe at the COW while there’s still time to gear up to influence the final vote. That move would likely inspire more people to show up, I know it would for me. Knowing I could get more details on agenda items right there on the spot would be a big incentive to participate.

    Thanks Rob for ramping up the live blog for this important occasion, and to Ben Burd too for taking the initiative to come and speak out. And all the supporters who showed up at Council tonight, I think that made a difference to Councillors to know people do care about democracy in their local government.