By Neil Macmillan
For live entertainment or viewing pleasure, many people like to watch professional sports, Netflix and so on. In my case as a fan of grassroots democratic processes, I just love attending or watching online the regular meetings of the current Cornwall City Council.
Last Monday’s meeting (May 27) was a case in point. After a marathon session that lasted for more than four hours, Council even had to vote to extend the meeting beyond the prescribed cut-off time of 11 pm.
Mayor Bernadette Clement presiding responded by recognizing that “this a great Council” and that with respect to the other 10 Councillors “you all want to speak, you all want to debate,” and that “a lot of the discussion tonight was about your values, my values, and I respect that.” However, she added that she was taking personal responsibility for the inordinate length of the meeting and plans to work with the City administration on how future meeting agendas will be structured.
A lot of routine business was covered at last Monday’s meeting – presentations, reports, tenders, requests for proposals (RFPs), passing by-laws and so on. However, right at the end under new business were a couple of funding requests from outside community agencies: one from the new BMX park in Guindon Park and the other from Your Arts Council (YAC).
Each of these agencies wanted $15,000 to top up their allocation as approved in the municipal budget: the BMX park to build a protective fence around the park and YAC $15,000 for general operations.
Since this involved reconsidering a previous decision, two thirds of the Council members had to approve doing so, and this was done.
While some Councillors were reluctant to give the agencies exceptionally more funding than that approved in the municipal budget, the majority felt sufficiently flexible to recognize the particular merits of each request and both agencies got their money.
Mayor Clement was personally in favour of considering the additional requests, saying that “human endeavour being what it is,” such requests from outside agencies would continue to be submitted to Council from time to time, assuming of course that they are championed by a sympathetic and supportive couple of Councillors in order to get on the agenda.