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Council Follow-up, week of February 21, 2022

Updated: Jan 6

A quiet week, due to the Family Day holiday on Monday, and Town & Gown being cancelled. The BIA did provide us with many concerns, but also some exciting news!

Downtown Barrie BIA

Unfortunately, after last month's excitement about a published Agenda, none was provided for this meeting. Neither have the minutes from the December "special" meeting or January regular meeting been circulated. This is a disappointing lapse away from accountability and transparency.

The first item was getting Board permission to bump the item about endorsing the Supervised Consumption Site application to before the proposed in-camera session, as it was time sensitive. Addressing this item was fought, for some reason, by Janet Kemp, Colin Hassey & Daniela Fuda, but the "bumping up" passed.

The CMHA's request was a simple one – to re-issue the BIA's endorsement letter for the CMHA's Supervised Consumption Site application, with a simple clerical change to the legal address, with everything else staying the same. It frustratingly looked like the Board was going to refuse it, with several putting up roadblocks (mostly Colin Hassey, but also Janet Kemp, Daniela Fuda & Chad Ballantyne) but fortunately the discussion was turned around (thanks in no small part to Councillor Harris and Sarah Jensen), and this letter was approved, with only Janet Kemp, Colin Hassey and Daniela Fuda voting against.

The budget was also on the (not-provided) Agenda, with a motion to remove the "2021 My Main Street Community Activator Program" funding, which had been used to offset the Proposed Budget Total, and remove the $100,000 allocated to the Reserve Fund Contribution. At some point in this discussion, Staff seemed to take over Chairing the meeting, which is unusual and improper. There was also no mention of when this amended budget will be put to the BIA Membership for approval, as required (since they failed to present it for approval at the AGM in November).

Also of note, the BIA's lawyers have NOT reviewed the City's corrections and revisions to the BIA Constitution. Colin Hassey, who leads the Governance Committee (and, as far as we are aware, is the only remaining member of the committee, after last year's resignations) put up a great deal of resistance to getting Board approval, or involving them in any way – which, of course, is unusual and improper.

Several hours of the meeting were held in camera, and it seemed tensions were quite high when they returned (although had also been apparent earlier, just not as elevated) – lots of shouting over each other, and many accusations of unfairness and "dirtiness" in Councillor Morales's ordering of the votes (we are unable to comment on whether those accusations were substantiated, as we were not privy to the in camera portion).

The first motion put on the floor when they returned was to make the Secretary/Treasurer (Sarah Jensen), in essence the replacement for the Executive Director, until a new one was found – this motion failed. The second was to replace Councillor Morales as Chair with the Vice-Chair, Janet Kemp. An amendment was put forward to instead have Sarah Jensen replace the Chair (which seemed to bring on some more tension). In the end, though, the Board voted overwhelmingly for Sarah Jensen to become Chair – only "no" votes were Colin Hassey and Daniela Fuda. So, congratulations to Sarah Jensen – your dedication to Downtown Barrie has been apparent for many years, we look forward to your leadership!

And finally, the question of an office lease. There was a motion to enter a renewed lease agreement with Winstar for five years. Councillor Morales wanted to move to the Sandbox, but apparently didn't have support. Concerns over a five-year lease, was noted that this was just to enter negotiation. However, Chad Ballantyne seemed convinced he didn't have to come back for Board approval on the negotiated agreement – which is definitely not true for a contract of that size. Final result was approval to negotiate a one year lease with option to renew for another year.

A vote to finalize some HR issues (confidential). And that was the end of the meeting – 9:44pm, for a meeting that started at 5pm, and was obviously filled with much vitriol. Let us hope that Sarah Jensen's calm demeanour will make a change in the Board atmosphere from here on.

Town & Gown Committee

CANCELLED, due to no quorum



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