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Recorded votes; council raises; artificial turf on front yards

In favour of recorded votes

Committee of the Whole, Dec. 12, 2pm; to Council Dec. 19, 7pm

Burlington City HallUnder our current procedural bylaws, recorded votes are not allowed at standing committees of council, including the Community Development Committee; Community Services Committee; Budget & Corporate Services Committee; and Committee of the Whole. All members of City Council sit on these standing committees.

Though votes are taken on individual items at committee, a majority vote sends that item as a “recommendation” only to City Council, where a final vote, and decision, is made. Recorded votes are permitted at City Council only.

Many residents have told me they want to know who voted which way at committee, so they can follow up with their elected representative before a final vote at council. Furthermore, if a vote fails, it does not get to council, and there is no record (and thus no accountability) of who voted which way. Such accountability is especially important to residents on close or controversial votes.

My Take: I’ve long been an advocate of recorded votes, to foster accountability and transparency in decision-making. I will be bringing a recommendation to amend our procedural bylaw to allow recorded votes at standing committees at the request of a committee member. I will also be asking for council to consider electronic voting software as part of the 2012 budget, which would allow automatic votes on all items, and facilitate record keeping and online searching.

Your view: Should recorded votes be allowed on request at committee meetings? Email me at meedwardm@burlington.ca or leave a comment below.

Council raise recommended at 3%

Budget & Corporate Services Committee, Dec. 13, 9:30am; to Council Dec. 19, 7pm

In 2006, the Citizens Committee on Council Responsibilities and Compensation recommended that the salaries of city councilors be automatically adjusted each year based on average inflation. The recommended increase for this year is 3% (read report here

My Take: Given current economic uncertainty, talk of public sector wage freezes, significant economic pressures for taxpayers from the hospital redevelopment and aging infrastructure, and publicly reported union and non-union agreements being settled across the province in the 1.5-2.5% range, I cannot support an increase of this magnitude at this time.

Your view: Should council accept the increase, a smaller increase, or a wage freeze? Email me at meedwardm@burlington.ca or leave a comment below.

No artificial grass on front lawns

Community Development Committee, Dec. 12, 6:30pm; to Council Dec. 19, 7pm

Current city policy does not permit artificial grass in front yards, although it is allowed in back and side yards. City staff were asked to review that policy, with a view to allowing artificial grass on front yards. Staff have completed the review, and are recommending no change in our current zoning, thus the prohibition on artificial grass in front yards would remain (read report here

My Take: For environmental reasons, I support keeping artificial turf out of front yards.

Your view: Should artificial turf be allowed on front yards? Email me at meedwardm@burlington.ca or leave a comment on our below.

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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  1. Recorded votes should happen at committee.  Often it seems to me that when a neighbourhood issue that the residents are quite distressed about comes up that Ward Councillor will side with the residents knowing perhaps through prior councillor discussion that they will be out voted by the rest of the Councillors, so the recommendation goes against the residents.  If committee votes were recorded residents could see how their councillor voted on similar issues (i.e. development) that may have happened in other wards.  

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