Subject: Dec. 8 City Council meeting

Mr. Mayor and City Councillors,

I attended last evening’s city council planning meeting to its very late end.  I’d like to offer a few comments about the meeting.
1)  For a first planning meeting of the new City Council, I felt that the agenda was too full.  The result was that the meeting went far too late into the evening.  I noted a few councillors trying to stifle or hide yawns during delegation presentations.  Some councillors appeared confused at times about details of the planning process, details of a development application, and possibly even on the vote for 781 Victoria Road – after a series of motions.  I don’t believe sound planning decisions can be made when everyone is tired and wanting to get the council meeting finished.
2)  During the last agenda item of the meeting, a councillor asked what the repercussions would be if the application was rejected.  Mr. Salter explained that the matter would possibly be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board, an outcome that appeared to raise concerns. I don’t believe sound planning decisions can be made based on the threat of an OMB hearing.  I understand that in this case, if the application was rejected, the staff report and recommendation on the application would be in conflict with City Council.  Staff reports cover the legal and technical specifics of an application but I feel that Council needs to consider other less tangible aspects for the benefit of the City as a whole.
3)  City Councillors have a large amount of material to read and consider prior to council planning meetings, some of which is fairly technical.  Councillors must therefore rely on the staff recommendations and reports when making a final decision on an application.  I hope, however, that City Council does not simply become a “rubber stamp” in the planning process as other aspects need to be considered that can’t always be covered by staff.
4)  I noted last evening (well after midnight) that several councillors voiced opinions and concerns about the development application for 781 Victoria Road South.  One councillor spoke against the application but when the final vote came, voted to approve the development as shown on the large overhead screen.  I thought that councillor looked confused and a bit taken aback as if the wrong vote registered.  One could attribute this to the very late hour and to the fact that it was a very long planning meeting.  There had also been two other motions made on this application prior to the final one which at that late hour might have caused some confusion.  I could be wrong but that was my impression.
It was an interesting meeting and I commend City Council for their diligence.

1 Comment

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  1. mike darmon

    I agree entirely with the writer on all their observations .In fact I was exhausted after the first planning issues and left .I cannot believe that ANY councillor can make a rational decision at that time after such a lengthy meeting .The combination of this with new rookie councillors and Mayor leeds to bad decision making.

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