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LOCAL MOTIVE

Community happens when citizens, associations, businesses, builders and governments work together.  

LOCAL MOTIVE is intended to be a tool for facilitating dialog and passing on knowledge on a variety of community development subjects, from urban design to wellbeing to economic development and beyond.  

Staff will be posting on a regular basis. We encourage you to subscribe with the red button on the right of the page.

Local Motive Podcast episodes are available for listening on Anchor and Spotify.

 


Welcome to the Local Motive Podcast

Episode 6: September 12 Council Meeting Recap

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Municipal Terminology – Lame Duck Council

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Municipal Terminology – What on earth is a ‘Lame Duck’?

In episode 2 of the Local Motive podcast, Rob Voigt talked about the words that we use, and the effect that they have on us as people, each other, and how we interact with municipal government. That’s not the only way that words affect municipal government though, as we have lots of terminology, some legislated, some just historical, that isn’t exactly transparent to most citizens. This is the first of an occasional series of posts to try and explain what some of that terminology actually means. We’re starting with a strange one that we often hear at election time – what on earth is a “Lame Duck”?

We hear about lame duck politicians regularly, normally in an American context – it refers to an official in the last days of their term in office, after their successor has been elected.

In Ontario municipal politics, the term is used a bit differently. It describes a Council that has limited decision powers for a period (either from nomination day, or from election day), because we know that less than ¾ of them will be elected. Technically, this is called ‘Restricted Acts after Nomination Day’ in the Municipal Act.

In Meaford, we’re a ‘lame duck Council’ now, because we know that a maximum of five existing members of Council can be re-elected and three quarters of seven is 5.25, which gets rounded to 6. How do we know that? Well, Mayor Clumpus isn’t standing for election, and both Councillor Kentner and Councillor Vickers are running for Mayor, so only one of them can be elected to the new Council.

So what are the limited powers I hear you ask? Well, actually, not much. Council can continue with most of their business, dealing with development applications, policies, new by-laws and so on. There are just three things they can’t do:

  1. Approve any unbudgeted spending – things that were approved in the annual budget are okay
  2. Hire or fire an ‘official’ of the Municipality (think CAO, Clerk etc.)
  3. Buy or sell land

In general, Council doesn’t do any of those things very often, so it’s pretty easy to get through to the start of the new Council in November. However, if something does come up, Council has given the CAO authority to spend a certain amount of money and deal with any hiring or firing that needs to be happen.

That’s ‘Lame Duck’ in a nut shell – you can find a bit more detail in our recent Council report.

What other municipal terms confuse? Tell us by e-mailing localmotive@meaford.ca

Episode 5: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Planning Edition

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Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Planning Edition.pdf

Episode 4: Are we talking about Affordable Housing or Attainable Housing
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Episode 3: September 12 Council Meeting Preview
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Episode 2: The Words We Use Matter
 

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Episode 1: Introduction and Welcome Message
 

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Democracy in Municipal Government
 

“Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government,

except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Last week, the Municipality had the pleasure of hosting the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. During her visit, Her Honour spoke to the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner about the value of democracy, and particularly how important it is on the local level, as it is the level of government that touches lives on an almost daily basis, from garbage collection to stop signs, from baseball diamonds to heritage preservation.

You might recognize the quote above as being from Winston Churchill. The quote forms part of the current exhibition at the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario called “Speaking of Democracy”, which brings together famous and not-so-famous words about democracy, the role of the electorate and how government should work.

As we move closer and closer to the municipal and school board elections in October, this theme feels extremely important, and is one of the reasons why we’ve created the Local Motive site. One of the other quotes in the exhibition is from Fernando Cardoso, a former President of Brazil, who says “Democracy is not just a question of having a vote. It consists of strengthening each citizen’s possibility and capacity to participate in the deliberations involved in life in society.”

We hope that, through these blogs and podcasts, our citizens can strengthen their capacity to participate by learning more about municipal government, how it works, and how to interact with it. We’ll be trying to ‘explain the why’, rather than just saying ‘this is the answer’, and hopefully help you, the voter, choose which of the candidates running for office in October are best placed to represent the community. If you have ideas for posts, please let us know by e-mailing localmotive@meaford.ca.

Of course, I can’t post about municipal government and democracy without encouraging you to vote in October – it really is the way that you can have a say in what the next four years looks like for the Municipality. Find information on how to vote, including registration for vote by mail, by going to www.meafordvotes.ca.

Matt Smith, Clerk / Director of Community Services


 

If you have any questions or have any comments about the Local Motive podcast, please email us localmotive@meaford.ca

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