For a second time, Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger has deferred his motion to replace the Greater Sudbury Economic Development Corp.
Meeting on Tuesday at Tom Davies Square, Bigger said he's had meetings with the new chair of the GSDC, Andrée Lacroix, about his concerns and is optimistic an agreement could be reached on how the board will operate in the future.
“We have been working well together,” Bigger said. “I want to keep having that conversation to find solutions together.”
As first reported by Sudbury.com, Bigger moved to replace the board last spring over concerns it was making major decisions about economic priorities in closed-door meetings, leaving most of council out of the loop.
At the time, Bigger said his motion aims to close the communications gap that arises because city council and the GSDC operate under different guidelines for closed-door meetings.
“They're not following exactly the same rules as we would be obligated to ... and it actually causes a bit of a breakdown,” he said. “At this point in time, I'm sitting on the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation board, and three other members of council are on that board. But we are bound to our obligations to the GSDC board not to share information (discussed in camera).
“But city council has been elected as representatives for the city. We take an oath, we have fiduciary duties which make us accountable for the financial condition of the city, for evaluating the risks that the city faces and also evaluating the opportunities that may come our way.”
He proposed a motion at the June meeting of city council that would have replaced the GSDC with a “select cabinet” dedicated to economic development. He was persuaded to delay the motion until Tuesday's meeting – when he deferred it again, this time until Nov. 26.
Lacroix was at Tuesday's meeting, and gave an overview of how the board operates, stressing they support the work of council by vetting opportunities and ideas.
“It’s not replacing what city council does well,” Lacroix said.
“The team approach of the GSDC, together with the administrative support from city staff, act as an invaluable due diligence clearing house and gatekeeper to ensure that city council has the best and most current information and context before and when economic decisions are made.”
Bigger said he's optimistic a new model for the GSDC can be found without replacing it, but resisted suggestions from some councillors that he just withdraw the motion entirely, and re-introduce it should talks with the GSDC fail.
In the end, only four councillors voted against the deferral – Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti, Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland and Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc.