City council – May 14

May 16, 2012 at 10:52 am (News, Politics) (, )

I’m a day late in blogging about the last city council meeting … but I have no exciting excuses. Just plain busyness. I know my days are especially packed when I barely check Twitter. Yes, I’m experiencing minor withdrawal.

It was a lengthy gathering on Monday evening – three hours – covering first quarter financials, the hiring of a new human resources manager, staff replacements, park improvements and more.

  • Last week, the Seaway International Bridge Authority announced their plans to locate the toll booth at the north end of the new low-level span. Makes sense, considering that’s where it is relative to the current bridge. But both the Cornwall mayor and Mohawk grand chief slammed the idea, suggesting the booth be either eliminated or moved to the U.S. bridge instead, to allow a freer flow of traffic between the two Canadian communities. The issue was brought to full council this week, though the more interesting discussion was on the timing of the mayor’s statement. Coun. Glen Grant said he was rather offended he (and his colleagues) weren’t consulted before an official release came from city hall. He voted against a resolution – which passed with the support of everyone else, except Rivette – that called on the federal government to reconsider the booth’s location, citing not enough information on the controversy.
  • Rebecca Sorrell in Guindon Park

    A group of a dozen or more protesters hit up city hall this week, despite not making it onto the evening’s agenda. The Save the Beaver petitioners brought signs and homemade t-shirts, hoping to make a plea for the end to trapping of the country’s national animal in Guindon Park. When they realized they wouldn’t be invited to speak, they left in a rather noisy fashion. “I’ll see you next council, Mr. Kilger,” said Rebecca Sorrell, the unofficial leader of the group, and the petition’s author.
    Personally, I don’t think they’re going to get too far. Trapping for the purpose of population control has been going for more than two decades with very little controversy; the beavers are still around but the roads haven’t flooded. The city has little motivation to make changes … plus a couple of traps were stolen from the park this year, which I’m sure will do the opposite of helping this group’s cause.

  • Councillors fired questions at an auditor during the meeting, wondering how they can improve their budget process and overall fiscal health. Though they were assured Cornwall is in a good place financially, auditor Ross Markell encouraged them to do more budget planning during the year, rather than just in the first few months of a new calendar. He also suggested the creation of a broad 10-year plan, which would help council see the longer-term effects of their decisions, especially when it comes to deferring capital projects.
    The discussion followed a recent governance training session, where there was also a conversation about the budget process. Last year councillors seemed determined to make adjustments, but there was very little change when it came down to it. Hopefully this time will be different – whether it means the steering committee meeting more often, city departments giving detailed looks into their operations throughout the year, a fresh look at infrastructure needs vs. the pressure on taxpayers, or whatever. There’s always room for improvement.

I’ll be back at city hall on May 22 for the planning advisory committee. Council meets next on May 28.

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