Council Follow-up, week of May 2
Updated: Jun 18, 2022
Partisan campaigning in Council Chambers, passing the buck, and dismissing residents – not a great week (we know the answer to last week's rhetorical question), and yet, better than last month, at least!
Circulation List: https://barrie.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=953326&GUID=7A2C0C4F-F07A-4D1A-B651-8B0809AEC06C&Options=info|&Search=
ON LEAVE: Lehman
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/Vab_CelDSxE
Engage's Summary: https://www.engagebarrie.org/post/city-council-monday-may-2-7pm
Many items on the agenda tonight, but a quick night, as they all passed unanimously without discussion.
After his name was separated from the I Love Barrie contest last year, it was disappointing to see him back presenting the awards. As stated many times about the Love Barrie sign, this is a significantly problematic area, in that the city has now partnered with him to present his motto and usual campaign slogan on City property – which seems a gross violation of the Municipal Elections Act.
Also troublesome during the awards presentations, was McCann's suggestion that Patrick Brown will be the next Prime Minister – Council is meant to be non-partisan, and Councillors may not use Council Chambers or their position for campaign-related activities, as per the Code of Conduct.
The main feature of this meeting was a presentation from Paul Kovacs, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), about extreme wind risk reduction measures for new builds in Barrie. He shared the financial and other impacts resulting from Barrie's 2021 tornado, and the simple and low-cost adjustments that could have reduced damage. While he was grateful for the City petitioning the province to change the Ontario Building Code, he expressed disappointment that the city hadn't done more, and that it hadn't acted on the suggested implementation of a rebate or financial incentive program to encourage new builds to use wind protection straps or clips.
What was also disappointing was that, in the Q&A, Thomson suggested Kovacs should be lobbying insurance companies instead, and seemed offended and confused that Council was being asked to do anything. This seemed another frustrating incidence of "passing the buck" instead of taking any action under municipal jurisdiction. As Kovacs answered, they're academics, not lobbyists. They provide the information and the science, and give recommendations of how to use the science to make things better. (Interestingly, he noted that insurance companies already seem to be taking the science seriously and acting accordingly – disappointing that Council cannot.)
Also disappointing and frustrating was Morales using "announcements" time to badmouth residents who spoke up against an (approved) development in Ward 9, including accusing them of "NYMBYism" and just not liking change. This was incredibly disrespectful of the public and his constituents, and typical of his pattern to silence and discredit those speaking up to council and public engagement.
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/gF1qPSS40s4
Engage's Summary: https://www.engagebarrie.org/post/planning-committee-tuesday-may-3-7pm
Two Public Meetings for Ward 9, and one Zoning Bylaw Amendment for Ward 10. The Ward 10 Councillor, McCann, arrived late so the amendment was held by Morales, but no discussion arose and the motion was passed.
Curious to note that when McCann arrived late (at some point during the presentation for the first Public Meeting), he did not sit in his proper seat – instead, he had inserted himself next to Councillor Kungl, and remained there for the entirety of the meeting. We are unsure whether this was a "power play" or to intimidate, but it was, nevertheless, entirely inappropriate. Especially in light of the Workplace Harassment case, it was disappointing that the Chair did not step in at all, and ask him to take his proper seat. Further indication that Council is oblivious to workplace safety issues, and – as we keep reiterating – should ALL be taking the training prescribed for the respondent of the Workplace Harassment case.
City Building Committee
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/yx78L2Tg6wo
Engage's Summary: https://www.engagebarrie.org/post/city-building-committee-tuesday-may-3-6pm