Wilmot council passes motion to look at changing delegate speaking bylaw

A motion passed by councillors in Wilmot Township is aiming to make it easier for delegates to speak at the meetings.

The motion, brought forward by Ward 3 Councillor Harvir Sidhu, asks staff to look at potential changes to the bylaw to allow up to three registered delegates at each meeting to speak about any matter of public interest within the township. The current bylaw notes that delegates can only speak about items that are on the agenda.

Sidhu said there is frustration among members of the community for not being able to speak at meetings about things not on the agenda.

“I’d really like to hear from staff on best practices at other municipalities and see this as a tangible way to increase our transparency and build trust with those who elected us,” Sidhu said.

The motion was passed by a vote of 5-1, with Ward 4 Councillor Steven Martin being the only holdout.

Monday’s meeting heard from three delegates in favour of the motion. Kevin Thomason, the vice chair of the Grand River Environmental Network, said it can be “impossible” to get everything ready to speak at a meeting when things are not on the agenda, citing his experiences delegating at various councils across the province.

“The differences between communities and councils can be significant,” Thomason said. “It is broadly acknowledged that Wilmot Township is one of the most challenging and difficult, unfortunately earning the reputation of being ‘Wil-not’ instead of Wilmot.”

Another delegate, Stewart Snyder, said the motion would be a “new era” and said that constituents must have the ability to be heard on topics they believe to be major issues.

“It will give us the opportunity to communicate with all of you at once rather than trying to communicate one-on-one,” Snyder said. “It will bring transparency back to the forefront.”

Snyder also apologized publicly to Councillor Martin for not following the rules when he spoke at the last meeting on May 27.

Staff will report back to council at the end of July with any recommended changes.

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