CORNWALL, Ontario - City councillors decided Monday night to correct a policy error that was made 11 years ago when it comes to hiring summer students, and go only with Cornwall teenagers to fill its ranks.
Cornwall employs about 106 summer students, and some city councillors want to make sure they all come from Cornwall.
Of the current roster, 23 live outside city borders.
In 2003 council voted to create a policy that would mandate the hiring of Cornwall teens only, with an exception that the city applicants must have all the qualifications necessary for the job, like a lifeguard for example.
But Coun. Andre Rivette said between the time the motion was passed in 2003, to when the policy was actually drafted, an error was created that does not sufficiently spell out council's directive.
In the past the city has gone, mostly, with Cornwall teens, with a dash of representation from students who live just outside the municipal borders, in South Stormont and South Glengarry, as examples.
Rivette takes it a step further and asserts in some occasions the children of full-time city employees, who happened to live outside city limits, were hired for summer work too.
The city, though, maintains it uses a lottery system of qualified candidates to determine who fills a job, with names essentially being drawn randomly.
"We want to make sure the students of Cornwall have a priority," Rivette said in an interview. "The bottom line is council's decision was not put in the policy."
An opinion from the city's legal arm, as well as courtroom decisions, suggests a municipality can make changes to its hiring policies, and fill summer student positions with residents only, without fear of a challenge concerning human rights violations.
"Does the current legal regime allow us to give such preference? The answer to this question was very surprising, not only to city staff, but the city's solicitor as well," Cornwall human resources manager Dail Levesque said in a report to council. "The legal ground has shifted under our feet in very recent years.
"Recent jurisprudence tells us that giving preference to someone who resides in the municipality undertaking the recruitment is permissible."
Coun. Denis Carr believes the city should "look after its own.
"I have no problems with that."
The new city policy says the teens must live within the city, or have parents who pay taxes in the community.