The first meeting of the new township council was held last night (Tuesday 5th December 2006) and I attended along with about 30 other members of the public. And for those loyal readers who have enquired about my take on how it went, I have good news. The good news is... the meeting was actually pretty dull in places. No fireworks, no controversy to speak of, no anger, no animosity.
The meeting opened with a presentation from MPAC, the beloved corporation responsible for property value assessment in Ontario. Everything at MPAC is kind of on hold while they grapple with the Ombudsman's highly critical report, so this was really just an update on where they are in the process of improving things. The only major item of interest here is that MPAC claims they need an 11% increase in funding in order to implement the recommendations in the report; that funding comes only from Ontario municipalities.
Our council endorsed a resolution from the Niagara region strongly opposing this funding increase; MPAC is to begin consultations with municipalities across the province shortly.
Apart from the routine business of council the only other issues of note were the passing of a resolution stating that council will no longer initiate discussion of the legal matters in the recent past, and the discussion of council remuneration.
Council passed a motion to restore remuneration to where it was prior to the outgoing council's last meeting, but also called on the staff to conduct another study to compare Montague with other Lanark County municipalities. Peter Kavanagh pointed out that since Council was only faced with the discussion because of a deeply unethical act, it was only proper to restore the status quo and then go from there. The only councillor unhappy with this decision was Dianne Coates, who was of the opinion that the review should happen prior to any adjustments.
There was some discussion of the Rideau 175 anniversary celebrations; Bill Dobson had attended a symposium on the celebrations being planned and some ideas for Montague to participate were discussed.
Peter Kavanagh drew attention to the excellent work of the Fire Department during the recent storm, and Council received a letter from one couple thanking the firefighters for their help.
There was an open question session at the end of the meeting, as promised.
All in all, it was an excellent start and sets a new course.
On that note, I was disappointed by the editorial in today's 'Reckless'. The newspaper draws attention to the two recent letters to the editor and then, based on the letter from Don Page, accuses Montague's new council and the MRA of attempting to stifle free speech. This is mischievous of the newspaper. My views on the Page letter are already here for people to read - I'm not a big fan. But I also know for a fact that Mr. Page's letter was written without the knowledge of the MRA, and certainly had nothing to do with the new Council. It's just deliberate stirring of the pot for the Record News to link Mr. Page's letter with the new Council. Shame on you, Reckless.