With inevitably intense budget debates on the horizon, Cornwall City Council’s regular meeting on February 25 seemed more like a clearing of the decks in preparation for the onset of Council deliberations in earnest at an additional special Council meeting one week later at 5 pm on March 4, just before the March school break.
During discussion, it emerged that whereas most months of the year, Council meets twice, there are four months when it is only obliged by current policy to meet once: March, July, August and December.
Given the amount of municipal business that needs to be dealt with even during those four months, it looks like Council may very well visit this policy, especially given the current limitation to only one meeting in March.
A couple of reports generated particular interest: one a draft Council-Staff Relations Policy and one on Homeless Enumeration in the City of Cornwall and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
Together with a dedicated Integrity Commissioner, a specific Council-Staff Relations Policy is now a requirement of all municipalities in Ontario under the new Provincial Government’s Bill 68. The City of Cornwall’s policy basically commits it to promoting “a respectful, tolerant, harassment-free relationship and workplace between members of Council, and the officers and employees of the Corporation.”
The 30-page Homeless Enumeration Report submitted to Council is part of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy goal to end homelessness in the province by 2025. The survey was undertaken by Cornwall’s Social and Housing Services Department over a seven-day period and resulted in responses from 83 individuals, 34 of whom were subsequently classified as meeting the definition of homeless.
Social and Housing Services Administrator Stacey Ferguson acknowledged that the report was only a start in the region’s effort to address this situation, but the issue itself clearly struck a chord with some Councillors. To be continued…
In other business, Council approved a number of contracts, including over $800,000 to EVB Engineering of Cornwall to provide engineering services in relation to the Brookdale Avenue North Sanitary Sewer Extension from Tollgate Road West to Cornwall Centre Road. This project is intended to significantly open up this area, including north of Highway 401, for commercial development in the years to come.
Right at the end of the Council meeting, Kevin McHardy, a recent hire with the Cornwall Fire Department, was recognized, on the initiative of Councillor Justin Towndale, for a rare commendation from the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (see accompanying story).