by Jim Bertram
Over slightly more than two years now, I have spoken with North Grenville residents in informal conversation about numerous subjects. The talks cover a wide range of topics of greater and lesser import, often including the everyday matters that come up in friendly discussion. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the possibility of interaction with so many citizens and the discussions which ensue.
Sometimes, however, a subject arises which could well be presented to our municipal Council for various purposes. At times, information which is of public interest, about events, or occurrences in the community, would be prime subjects for presentation at Council. At other times, topics of concern which might benefit from some manner of action on the part of the municipality would be candidates for presentation. The range of possibilities is fairly extensive. While we do get a good number of presentations at Council, it seems, from these discussions, that many residents are unclear on what they should do if they should wish to present to Council.
First of all, it should be emphasized at the outset that most questions and problems are relatively straightforward and are resolved with a phone call or an e-mail to the appropriate department, or to a Councillor who will undertake to be of assistance. But, if a subject is of greater than usual “dimensions”, you may decide to bring it to a meeting of your municipal Council.
So, how should you proceed? First of all, you are going to want to bring it to what is called the Committee of the Whole, which is held every two weeks, usually on Mondays, in municipal chambers. To arrange for a place on the agenda, you must call the Municipal Clerk’s office and explain what you wish to do. The Clerk will make appropriate arrangements and ensure that you know how to proceed. If technical supports are needed, he will discuss this with you.
When you come to Committee of the Whole on the appointed day, you will be seated in the spectator area and will wait until your part of the agenda, when you will be called upon to present. Your presentation should clearly state its main points and arguments in support. It may include a petition. It should include a statement of what you believe would be a reasonable action to resolve any difficulty which concerns you. At the end of your presentation, members of Council may ask questions. At times, municipal department heads may make a contribution to the discussion following your presentation.
If a presentation has been made for information, you will be thanked by the Mayor before you leave the presentation table. If you request action of some kind on the part of the municipality, Council may refer the request to municipal staff for research into the matter for decision-making purposes. Sometimes a Councillor may present a motion regarding the topic, if it seems practicable to do so in the context of the particular situation.
However the matter resolves itself, you, and perhaps other residents who share your concerns, will have had a good opportunity to express those concerns and, hopefully, find suitable resolution to them. You may also have presented information and points of view to Council and the greater community which were previously not well known. In so doing, you help your community become a better place by bringing concerns forward which may also have an impact on other citizens. All in all, the process will be a learning and problem-solving experience for all involved. With that in mind, I look forward to seeing you there if you wish to bring a matter forward which you judge to be significant.