Today was the first council meeting of the new term. Stittsville is known as “Ward 6” of the 23 city wards, so I took my seat at 10:00am in between Eli El-Chantiry (West Carleton, Ward 5) and Theresa Kavanagh (Bay, Ward 7). You can see me on the left side of this photo, just to the left of the Canadian flag. Mayor Jim Watson sits up high in the middle, and chairs the meeting.
Today’s agenda included a debate on the governance report, a massive document that sets out the structure and procedure of council and committees over the next four years. It gets into the weeds of municipal governance and can get a bit tedious, but it’s important to have the right framework in place to allow council to operate and make decisions fairly and responsibly.
There were number of motions approved that I believe will ensure a greater degree of accountability, transparency and more meaningful public participation at City Hall. One small example was a motion put forward by my colleague Keith Egli (Knoxdale-Merivale), to increase the release of reports to 7 business days (up from 7 calendar days) in advance of a committee meeting. This would allow residents and stakeholders more time to review the reports and prepare a response before the item goes to committee. This was the kind of municipal minutiae that we reviewed and discussed for about three hours.
The other major item presented today at council was the tabling of a report on cannabis, and whether or not the city should opt out of retail cannabis sales. This report comes in advance of a special meeting next week entirely devoted to the issue of retail cannabis. On Thursday, December 13, members of the public can address council as a whole and share their questions, comments, and concerns, before council votes on the issue.
I still need to dive in and read the report in greater detail, but I was pleased to see that it includes information about the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) process for evaluating and awarding licenses to cannabis retailers. To be clear, this would be part of a provincial approval process, rather than a municipal one, but it would provide some regulatory oversight and public consultation on the location of retail cannabis stores that many residents, myself included, have been wondering about. This policy is one of many pieces of information included in the report that I will be looking for clarification on over the next week.
In the meantime I would be interested to hear from residents on this issue.
The full report will be posted shortly, and when it’s available I’ll share the link here. Click here to read the reports and appendices. You can share your feedback with me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— City of Ottawa (@ottawacity) December 6, 2018
Next up for me from a city council point of view is the nomination process for committees. This week each councillor will fill out a survey to indicate their preferred committees, such as planning, transportation, transit, public health, and so on. Then on Tuesday, a small group of councillors appointed as the “nominating committee” will review all of the requests, and slot people into the many committees, boards, and other positions on council. Stay tuned!