Cornwall city hall
CORNWALL, Ontario - An outside investigator has once again come down on city hall - this time for a decision by the waterfront development committee to move behind closed doors for a portion of a meeting in May.
Stephen Fournier says in his report, which will be reviewed by city councillors tonight, that a decision to move a recent waterfront committee meeting to a closed session contravenes the rules of the Ontario Municipal Act.
Fournier is recommending city clerk Helen Finn hold a series of orientation meetings with the chairs of city committees to advise them of the rules.
Often committee members are not elected officials, but instead volunteers from the community.
"It became evident during the course of the interviews that the non-elected appointees, who in this instance represent the vast majority of sitting members, were not familiar with the legislative and procedural requirements governing closed meetings," Fournier writes in his report to city hall.
The meeting that caused all the fuss took place in May, when the SD and G Historical Society was making a presentation to the committee.
Society curator Ian Bowering took issue with making public comments concerning funding for a project, and also made mention of a legal issue he has with a local website - the operator of which was in attendance at the meeting, said Fournier's report.
The committee voted to go in-camera to hear Bowering's comments behind closed doors, contravening provincial policy, said Fournier.
Fournier has taken issue with other in-camera meetings held by city council, and has taken the municipal body to task on that subject.
City council debated the issue Monday night, and voted to defer any action on the report until after Fournier can appear at city hall.
Fournier is unavailable for medical reasons and it is unclear when he will be well enough to make the trip.
"I was hoping he would be here tonight to answer questions," said Coun. Andre Rivette. “We’ll know that when he comes here. The questions can’t be asked until he is here.”
But councillors Maurice Dupelle and Bernadette Clement suggested the issue should be expedited.
"I wouldn’t want to see it deferred for too long," said Clement.