Town officials table proposed amendements to Municipalities Act
There could be changes coming to the provincial government’s Municipalities Act and Municipalities Elections Act.
© Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.
There could be changes coming to the provincial government’s Municipalities Act and the Municipalities Elections Act.
At the Town of Bay Roberts’ regular council meeting on Jan. 14, officials were presented with two proposed bills that would amend pieces of these Acts.
Mayor Philip Wood said these propositions have gone through second reading, but would have to go through a third before being passed.
“These have been sent out for correspondence,” he said at the meeting.
The first bill is being identified as Bill 20. If passed, this bill would allow councils to appoint a youth representative, as well as allow councillors to participate in meetings electronically.
Should it pass, the youth representative portion would be known as section 13.1 and would add the following:
• a town council may appoint a person with the title “youth representative” to sit with the council and participate in its deliberations for a term and on conditions that the council may decide;
• a person appointed as a youth representative shall be less than 18 years of age at the time of appointment; and
• a person appointed as a youth representative is not a member of the town council and shall not be counted for the purpose of determining a quorum or deciding a vote of the council.
“There is some issue with how you can get that representative,” said Wood.
Section 24 of the Act would also see changes should Bill 20 pass. These would add different parts under subsection 2. It would mean any councillor participating electronically who can listen and be heard is to be considered in attendance for the meeting.
These would also fall under the section dealing with regional councils.
“I think that is a tremendous thing, because sometimes you may be away at a meeting or you may be away attending a funeral, yet you can pick up the phone and still be a part of the meeting,” said Wood.
Bill 20 would also lower the amount of time a councillor can spend away from the municipality before their seat becomes vacant from one year to six months.
Bill 18 applies to the Municipal Elections act. If it’s passed, this would allow municipalities to use electronic means as a supplementary method of fulfilling public notification requirements, as well as allow council employees to take a leave of absence in order to run in an election.
It also amends the rules governing residency of an individual in a municipality. Specifically, should a person be absent from the municipality for a continuous period of more than six months that person is no longer considered a resident.
This proposed amendment would also allow councils to defer a byelection, with the approval of the minister, for a period exceeding one year in total where a council seat was:
• declared vacant by resolution of council and the councillor appealed the resolution to a judge of the trial division;
• vacated and the council appealed to a judge of the trial division under subection 410 (1) of the Municipalities Act.
“You could go for two or three years without calling a byelection,” said Wood. “There is another problem in this too. What about if it is three or four years and three or four of us get called in?
“You may not have a quorum for years.”
The Bills were only meant as correspondence between the government and municipalities.
“They’re only sent out for our feedback,” said Wood. “They are not law yet, they are only proposals.”
The mayor advised councillors that if they had any input on these issues, to send them to either himself, chief administrative officer Nigel Black or Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman.
Bay Roberts voted to refer these to file.