Residents tease me sometimes as the “Queen of the 6-1 vote” because I’ve been on the losing end of some high profile votes covered by the press. I take the ribbing in the good natured way it’s intended, knowing residents expect me to stand up for them.
To quote the anonymous proverb “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.”
(For a fascinating history on the origin of this quote post World Ward II, used by Chaplains, Reverends, elected officials and popularized by actress Irene Dunne, visit quote investigator).
In reality, every council member has been on the losing end of votes. We support motions we believe are in the best interest of residents, and bring motions forward even if they might lose in order to raise awareness and create dialogue about important issues. You hope that once people have had a chance to think and reflect on the matter, a more favourable result will occur when the motion comes forward again.
In the past, these losing votes haven’t been recorded in our minutes, and only a few of these votes are reported by the press, leading to the aforementioned perception.
As of a recent change, however, the minutes will now show all motions put on the floor, whether they lost or carried, and who moved them.
During recent budget discussions, a total of 31 items were discussed, with 4 withdrawn leaving 27 motions put on the floor. Of these, just over half passed (14). Most of the motions related to the current or operating budget (22), versus the capital budget (5). The operating budget has always had the most discussion – and motions.
When you review the motions, you’ll see a broad range of items and perspectives on them, from funding festivals, to increasing allocations from investment income, to increasing infrastructure and transit budgets (or reducing). There are even a few that ask for more information to be brought forward in time for discussions in 2016.
This diversity is a reflection not only of council, but of the residents we serve.
The motions can tell us a lot about the range of views on council, where council is at and possibly headed, and whether the lost votes are close or miles apart – an indication that success may be around the next budget cycle, or a long way off.
Read the complete list below.
My Take: Recording all motions, and the mover, is a step forward for transparency. I’ve been asking for recorded votes at committee since last term; this moves us in that direction. Now we simply need to keep going until all motions state who voted which way, and include that in a searchable online database. Then residents can keep track of what their elected representatives are doing and where they stand on issues.
What I’ve learned: It takes courage and some determination to bring forward a motion that seeks to change the status quo; it takes delicacy to do so diplomatically – putting forward your own position without making anyone else “wrong.” I haven’t always gotten it right, but I’ve learned a few things that helped me achieve some successful motions for residents during this budget: be brief – state your case in fewer words not more; be prepared – do your homework to present a thoughtful, researched proposal; be collaborative – workshop the idea with a few colleagues and staff in advance to seek advice and input; be patient – a motion won’t always fly the first time but don’t be afraid to bring some form of it back; and be fearless.
You have to be willing to take a risk to put a motion on the floor that may fail. Don’t be afraid to fail – be more afraid to fail to succeed. To quote the great Wayne Gretzky:
“You will miss every shot you don’t take.”
It’s a message I try to teach my kids, and our schools already do; the first time I saw the quote was on a poster in their elementary school.
People often remember that Babe Ruth had the record for home runs in 1923. What they don’t often remember is he also struck out that year more times than any other player in Major League Baseball.
It’s worth noting that the councillors who put the most motions on the floor, also had the greatest number approved (and lost!)
In history, whenever good things happened and great change occurred, it started with people who were willing to stick out their necks a little, and be willing to fail until they succeeded.
2015 BUDGET MOTIONS:
Below is a summary of motions put on the floor, who moved them, whether they carried or lost, and how the vote went (if I have that in my notes). In most cases, councillors had to risk a little and stick their necks out to put the item on the floor.
CURRENT BUDGET Motions CARRIED
- Approve one time funding of $4,075 to No Vacancy Art and Culture Street Festival (Old Lakeshore Road, September 2015), subject to staff approval of the event. (MOVER: Marianne Meed Ward (MMW); VOTE COUNT: Unanimous)
- Direct the Director of Planning and Building to prepare a business case for the 2016 budget on the provision of after hours and weekend bylaw coverage. (Mover: (MMW); VOTE COUNT: Not recorded)
- Direct the Director of Transit to prepare a business case for the 2016 budget for one free day per week for Burlington seniors on transit. (Mover: MMW; VOTE COUNT: Not recorded)
- Increase base funding to Art Gallery of Burlington of $100,000. (Mover: John Taylor (JT); VOTE COUNT: 5-2 (Lancaster & Dennison opposed). Amendment by Councillor Lancaster to approve the funds as “one-time” lost.
- Funding support of $10,000 (one-time) for the BurLINKton Community Development Program. (Mover: JT; VOTE COUNT: 4-3 (Taylor/Meed Ward/Goldring/Sharman in support)
- Add funding for Wards 4/5 Car-Free Street Festival of $5000 annually as an ongoing base budget item. Amendment moved by Councillor Meed Ward and carried that the funding be “one time.” (Mover: Jack Dennison (JD); VOTE COUNT: Unanimous)
- Add one time funding of $6,000 to the Roads & Parks Maintenance budget for more cutting of the hydro corridor. (Mover: JD; VOTE COUNT: 6-1. Who voted not recorded; I supported.)
- One time funding to Aldershot Jane’s Walk of $600. (Mover: Rick Craven (RC); VOTE COUNT: Unanimous)
- Add $25,000 to the Roads & Parks Maintenance base budget to permit the installation of one new park, or street bench in each ward, each year, in consultation with the ward councillor. (Mover: RC; VOTE COUNT: Vote not recorded; I supported, and suggested the original motion be modified from bench location “to be identified by the ward councillor” to “in consultation with the ward councillor.” Modification accepted by mover as friendly amendment and original motion changed.)
- Add $5,000 in funding for a Ward 6 Car-Free Street Festival as an ongoing base budget item. (Mover: Blair Lancaster (BL); Amendment moved by Councillor Meed Ward and carried to make the funding “one-time.” VOTE COUNT: Unanimous)
- Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to develop a policy, inclusive of funding considerations, to support local councillors and community with delivering ward focused community events. (Mover: Rick Goldring; VOTE COUNT: Not recorded; I supported the motion, and worked with staff and the mayor behind the scenes to help bring it forward.)
- Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to work with the Sound of Music event organizers to develop a policy that addresses city funding allocations and alignment with community building objectives of the city within the strategic plan, in order to inform future budget considerations. (Mover: Originated with Rick Goldring at committee, moved and seconded at council by Meed Ward and Lancaster; VOTE COUNT: Exact vote not recorded)
CAPITAL BUDGET Motions CARRIED:
- Direct staff to report to Council on the results of community consultation on the need for on-road bike lanes on Lakeshore Road from Maple Avenue to city limit at cost of $235,000 prior to tendering the project. (Mover: JT; VOTE COUNT: Not recorded; I supported.)
- Removal of Harrison Court northerly extension from the 2015 capital budget and forecast, for consideration in the 2016 budget. (Mover: JT; VOTE COUNT: Unanimous)
CURRENT BUDGET Motions LOST or WITHDRAWN:
- Removal of increase to transit fares. (Mover: MMW; LOST: 5-2, Meed Ward/Goldring in support.)
- Reinstate the Taxi Scrip Program with one-time funding of $35,000. (Mover: MMW; LOST: 6-1)
- Remove the $150,000 increase in salaries to offset the taxable benefit component of free employee parking downtown, for those staff who receive the benefit. (Mover: MMW; LOST: 5-2, Meed Ward/Dennison in support)
- Direct Director of Finance to provide a consolidated list of efficiencies, by department, to be included in the 2016 budget cycle. (Mover: MMW; LOST: Exact vote not recorded)
- Direct the Director of Transit to bring a business case to the 2016 budget to reinstate school specials cancelled in 2013. (Mover: MMW; WITHDRAWN: Director of Transit advised that consideration of reinstating school specials is already in the workplan for 2016.)
- Motion to extend the hours of the Community Connection to 9 to 4 to better align with programming at Burlington Seniors’ Centre. (Mover: MMW; WITHDRAWN: Staff advised that three extra buses would be required to operate more hours. However, a meeting is scheduled in early March with representatives from the Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee, Burlington Age-Friendly Seniors Council, Burlington Seniors Centre Board, myself and transit staff to discuss the Community Connection routes and hours.)
- Increase of Infrastructure Levy from 1.25% to 1.5%. (Mover: RC; LOST: 4-3, Craven/Meed Ward/Taylor in support)
- Increase of Infrastructure Levy by 0.25% ($350,000) per year for 10 years and dedicate it to the new and enhanced infrastructure fund. (Mover: JT; LOST: 5-2, Craven/Taylor in support)
- Removal of $337,000 annual funding for Transit Community Connection Service. (Mover: JD; LOST: 6-1)
- Increase of investment earnings by adding $200,000 to annual budget. (Mover: JD; LOST: 6-1)
- Removal of $96,000 annual funding for student education/mentoring/ticket discount at Burlington Performing Arts Centre. (Mover: BL; LOST: 6-1)
- Removal of increased funds of $33,000 in the base budget for Sound of Music Festival. Grant only a cost of living increase to the Sound of Music Festival for 2015. (Mover: BL; LOST: Exact vote not recorded; I didn’t support)
- Review Tyandaga golf course for possible sale for development. (Mover: JD; WITHDRAWN: To be discussed as part of the strategic plan)
- Review opportunity to establish a services organization to amalgamate like operations between city/hydro, for example vehicle maintenance. (Mover: JD; WITHDRAWN: To be discussed as part of the strategic plan)
CAPITAL BUDGET Motions LOST:
- Direct staff to report back to Council on projects and funding sources that include bike lanes in the 2015 10 year budget forecast as part of the second quarter 2015 report on Infrastructure funding. (Mover: JT; LOST: Exact vote not recorded; I supported)
- Increase stormwater management pond refurbishment in 2015 capital budget, by $60,000 for Orchard and Blanshard Drive. (Mover: JD; LOST: 6-1)
- Removal of replacementof rose trellis in Central Park ($125,000). (Mover: JD; LOST: 6-1)