Greater Sudbury city council voted 6-6 against extending tonight’s city council meeting beyond the three-hour mark, punting its remaining agenda items to the next meeting.
“That’s very normal, unfortunately,” Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland told Sudbury.com by phone after the meeting wrapped up with half of its agenda items yet to be dealt with.
As evidenced by the fact tonight’s meeting included COVID-19 Response manager’s reports for Sept. 14, Sept. 28 and Oct. 12, this was the third city council meeting in a row to run past the three-hour mark and have city council members vote against an extension.
Sudbury.com reached out to McCausland because his motion, which seeks assurances from Kingsway Entertainment District partners, was supposed to be next on the agenda.
This was the second time McCausland’s motion timed out at a city council meeting. He introduced it during the Sept. 28 city council meeting, when its associated debate hit the three-hour mark and bumped to tonight.
“It’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately,” McCausland said, later adding that it’s worthwhile calling out city council for its inability to complete agendas.
“That’s the main thing where we actually show where the rubber hits the road, and we need to be better at it,” he said.
Tonight’s meeting opened with an hour-long discussion about an outdoor events venue Yes Theatre has proposed for downtown Greater Sudbury called The Refettorio.
This was followed by a two-hour wide-ranging discussion between council members and Iain De Jong, a homelessness consultant recently hired by the city.
“It was a very fruitful conversation, both of them,” McCausland said, adding that the discussion about homelessness could have easily filled out its own special city council meeting.
Even at approximately two hours, tonight’s discussion about homelessness was cut short, which means it’s now slated to continue during the next city council meeting.
While disappointed tonight’s meeting did not go beyond three hours, McCausland clarified that he understands why half of council voted against the extension, as agenda items that fall near the end of longer meetings don’t necessarily get the attention they deserve.
Whether it’s more meetings or “more effective meetings,” he said something has to change.
Those to vote against extending tonight’s meeting included Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti, Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini, Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier, Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc and Mayor Brian Bigger.
Although this is only six votes, the city clerk’s office clarified that Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh left the meeting early so did not vote.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26, during which the agenda items that timed out tonight will reappear alongside whatever new items are included.
In addition to McCausland’s motion and ongoing debate on homelessness, four proposed business cases included in tonight’s agenda will be forwarded to Oct. 26. These include:
- Increasing Place des Arts annual operating funding to $260,000 from its current $149,213.
- Funding $50,000 toward the efforts of the Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council.
- Providing an annual grant to the 76 Hilltop Seniors Woodshop of up to $7,500 for 2022 and future years.
- A business case on how to best ensure the downtown Sudbury Community Arena and/or the property on which it resides “fully contributes to downtown renewal efforts, and sustains community vibrancy that includes, among other more technical steps, a plan for extensive public consultation.”
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.