General Government Meeting April 4th - GGC

The public meeting was only 10 minutes on You Tube.

In Camera 1pm 3 separate items
Public agenda was 4 items .

Items on Public agenda are:

Development Charge Reserve Fund- Treasurers annual report
Contract Award Street light maintenance
Duffins Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Outfall Environmental Assessment - Status
Assumption of Subdivision

There was only 1 item separated out and discussed. The Duffins Creek Water Pollution Control Plant

Turns out they did not finish all In camera items so they held public meeting starting at 2pm then
motioned to go back in camera to complete.

Minutes will reflect this order. (not completely)

Regional Councillor Colleen Jordan asked about the Stakeholder Advisory Committee which the Ajax Staff member representative was in answering questions.

The following is in summary what was discussed in my words.
You can read the Staff report here. The report is within the Agenda.

Very minor adjustments in how the criteria was looked at could have resulted in
achieving the Town’s preferred alternative solution

– There were 4 main classifications for Ranking the criteria
1) Natural Environment
2) Social Economics
3) Financial
4) “Another one”– (Her words not me missing it)

She continued to explain that Costs were being allocated to more then one category resulting in diluting
the end results for ranking.
She said that some had more sub categories then others, for some four and eight for others.
The category that was ranked at the top was Financial.

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee was not a decision making body and she relayed that the meetings were very long - 4 hours and jammed full with information and the ranking was done in a very short amount of time at the end. It was a very rushed process.

Joanne Dies mentioned that the SAC committee was used to deflect negativity and the Region could blame them.
Staff report states that the SAC was not a decision making body.

Mayor Parish makes the following points.

-”Very Political process” and it was good for Joanne to involve the community
- Provincial election at some point- who knows when,
– He is meeting next Friday with Tracey McCharles and Joe Dickson and they will have to take ownership of this issue
– “the Heat is on in the kitchen”

These are only my notes , Anything Quotes is just that,  their exact words.

Once I read the updated report this afternoon I noticed a few things.  The report order shows a department update, Item 7.  This was after the last in camera session, they did not
resume recording for this public item.  I sent a note to inquire.

The report states that Pat Brown began the public meeting as Joanne Dies and Colleen Jordan were 15 minutes late.  The video showed Joanne chairing the Public portion and I saw Colleen walk in explaining Veridian causing her delay.   So I am confused.  I sent a note to inquire and suggest they time stamp the video.

The public meeting should all be done in one block.  Why they chose to go in-camera to complete 1 item they did not have time for then complete 1 public item, the Department updates which included an update on the Steamplant, completely missed from the video.

Michael Baker has claimed for years that he would notice minutes not matching the meeting he witnessed.  Now I get what he is talking about.

A few other things I learned while watching other videos on way home in carpool -  the consent agenda is no different then a Conservative Omnibus bill, it is moved and voted on as a block.  They request items to be separated out ahead of time for discussion so the staff can prepare.  They don’t want staff in attendance if they don’t need to be there, makes sense.  Department heads are usually all in attendance.

So if they don’t separate out an item, they don’t talk about it then, the staff report is in a language all it’s own.  The report is then on the agenda for a Council meeting,  it is then voted on to be accepted as an agenda item at Council, no discussion.

Someone has to be the middle person in explaining these things,  this is why Councillors should be maintaining blogs and websites to regularly update their residents.

The other item was Development Charges Reserve fund, do you know what the report in the agenda means?  I don’t.

The Streetlight maintenance contract was renewed with no question.   I have a comment on this one.
The background in the report says that since 2009 the Town of Ajax has been responsible for streetlight maintenance as Veridian does not do it anymore, fine.  The Staff report asks to accept the contract for 1 year period then point 2 is to allow Staff to renew the contract for two one year periods on the anniversary of the contract subject to a review of complaints or issues.   The contract won’t come before council for 2 years.

I have had email about streetlights out for months in places.  Our own light was out for ages and 3 separate neighbours called the Town and we were all told it was the first they heard about it.

So if you have streetlight issue in your area, let me know cause before the contract is renewed we can let the staff know.

I think one of the Councillors should have at least asked about customer service issues with streetlights.  Dark street areas are a safety hazard.

I know , street light contracts are boring and not nearly as exciting as the Duffins creek pollution issue, the past issues of Direct Election and Regional Representation.

The role of council is to not meddle in the day to day , I get that but when something does come before Council on an agenda item, I do think it should be at least spoken about.

What do you think?  This blog is two way.

One Response to “General Government Meeting April 4th - GGC”

  1. Michael Baker Says:

    Over a period of years I made it a point to attend council meetings. GGC meetings are the most important of the three types of council meetings because at the GGC meetings the bulk of Ajax business gets done.
    These meetings however are not intended for the public. Before Town Hall was expanded GGC meetings were held in a room available only to staff. A member of the public needed permission to cross the threshold in oder to attend & then most often there might be one or two chairs for a member of the public.

    Then GGC meetings were moved to another back room in Town Hall. Once again there were very few chairs for members of the public & this room was much larger but also had no sound system.

    Once again discussions were intended only for those sitting around the meeting table & certainly discussions were not intended for any member of the public who might attend.

    I requested on many occasions for members of council to speak up so that everyone in the room could hear everything being said. I was ignored. I asked in writing & at public meetings that all GGC meetings should be held in the council chambers since mega bucks had been spent on their audio & video systems & that members of the public could be comfortably seated & would be able to easily follow the matters being discussed. I also asked why GGC meetings were not held in the evening like the CAP meetings & the Monday night council meetings.

    I was told that council liked doing the GGC meetings the way they do it & had done it that way for years.

    I stopped attending because not only was the public not encouraged to attend but that members of the public were not even recognized as part of the council matters that were being discussed simply by the fact that council discussed all agenda items either behind closed doors and spoke only loud enough that staff & members of council sitting at the table could possibly hear everything that was being discussed.
    By the time the minutes were posted the only opportunity to discuss the minutes would be at a council meeting & at the Question Period & only after all council meeting minutes had already been passed.

    At Question Period it is very rare that any member of the public asks questions.

    The record shows that nobody in Ajax attends council meetings to ask questions of council except once in awhile in the public portion of a CAP meeting.

    Based on my history having asked so many questions at Question Period I had a theory as to why question period is at the end of a council meeting. I was the only member of the public present for question period & the mayor usually treated me like I was “the enemy”.

    For the longest time I would write an email to all members of council reviewing what I thought had taken place at council meetings & offered comments re many items on the agendas.

    For a very short while some members of council actually carried on written dialogue with me & would even speak with me in person. Then all communication with me stopped.

    Staff & council basically complete most of their business at GGC meetings without any supervision or oversight by any individuals or groups in Ajax.

    The political process in Ajax does not include active participation by the voters … even at election time.

    On paper staff & council are very happy with themselves … on paper their community plan is a success.

    The deafening silence of the voters continues to reward the incumbents by not voting at elections & by re-electing the same four members of council who have held power over Ajax council for about 10 years.

    Karem you always know well about the matters you speak about on your blog but until we the people begin to get actively involved & join together to represent the political will of the people on matters that come before council any discussion that takes place here on your blog is simply talk that doesn’t really mean anything.

    People may come to read but certainly not to comment & discuss.

    The group of 4 continue to call all the shots for council … the group of 4 make sure that staff can do the job of running Ajax without any problems except from the OMB .

    I think staff does a very good job - considering what it has to work with.

    I think council does a very poor job.

    I smartened up & now instead of wasting my time attending council meetings I do things that are much more positive, meaningful & rewarding for me.

    Come April 11 our virtual mayor will talk with virtual residents re a virtual community action plan about virtual accomplishments thanks to our virtual members of council & it will all happen without any of the partners ever meeting each other face-to-face in ongoing full dialogue.
    As Mayor Parish says: “We want full dialogue with citizens.”

    Thanks for all your efforts Karem!

    Long ago you predicted the outcomes for me re my frequent attemps to partner with staff & council. You said that while I talked staff & council would eventually overwhelm me with silence.

    You were correct … you are still correct.

    In reality members of council have no idea how to fully dialogue with the voters of Ajax … except in their own virtual world.
    So everything is just fine in the Town of Ajax.

    Admin: I am editing your comment to put spaces in, for some reason your comments don’t have paragraphs to make it easier to read. I am having fun watching the GGC meetings and with them on Youtube they may have to change their approach to the meetings because we can literally be flies on the wall and the best part is they can’t swat at us. LOL! I remain positive that I can be the drive of some change. I still enjoy it and that is all that matters.
    Once my Municipalooza is over I am in contact with someone who would like to see a citizens group and I suggested we just meet in a coffee shop and review the Budget and Financial side of things. This is not a group for the purpose of plotting election strategy, it’s for people that are interested in the actual governance stuff. If you are interested in that, you are welcome to participate.

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