Municipality looks to continue regional CK council meetings

Chatham-Kent Council holds a meeting on March 9 2015 (Photo by Jake Kislinsky).

Chatham-Kent council meetings may continue to move around the municipality.

Regular council meetings are currently held in Council Chambers at the Civic Centre in Chatham. However, before being elected, Mayor Darrin Canniff campaigned on the idea of bringing the meetings to other wards to help reach more residents and improve council transparency.

In April 2019, council approved a pilot project to hold the first out-of-town council meeting in Tilbury. On October 7, Ryder Hall was turned into makeshift council chambers, marking the first time that a meeting had been held outside of Chatham.

Now, administrative staff is recommending that the concept of holding council meetings in all wards should continue. A report will go forward during Monday night’s meetings asking council to approve a spring 2020 meeting in Wallaceburg, a fall 2020 meeting in Ridgetown, a spring 2021 meeting in Dresden and a fall 2021 meeting in Blenheim. The report says that for the most part, the October 7 meeting in Tilbury was a success.

“Overall, the meeting went well with good attendance from the public,” the report stated.

The cost of the Tilbury meeting is pegged at around $1,000 including the use and delivery of microphones and extra expenses for the cost of a pre-meeting meal for councillors and administration. Those costs will be paid for with funds from Chatham-Kent’s strategic reserve.

“Costs for future events would be dependent on where the meeting would be held,” the report explains. “For example, hosting an event at a municipal facility where the rental fee may be waived and set up could be completed by municipal staff would cost less than a privately owned facility where a rental and set up/tear down fee may apply. It is expected that these council meetings be held at a cost of no more than $2,000 per meeting.”

Despite the overall good experience during the Tilbury meeting, staff noted that there were some improvements that need to be worked on for the next time a meeting is held outside of the Civic Centre. These improvements include making sure the location that is being used has internet access, improving the quality of projection presentations, and to display a projection of any motions that are being voted on.

In a survey given to people in attendance of the October 7 meeting, 37 out of 43 people — or 86 per cent — said the municipality should continue to hold council meetings in other wards.