Update: Council’s special meeting has been temporarily postponed because of a scheduling conflict. It was originally slated for Tuesday, Jan. 11.
A letter from Ontario’s Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister is the focus of an upcoming special council meeting in West Nipissing.
Minister Steve Clark wrote to the mayor and council saying he’s concerned about the cancellation of several meetings since at least last September and council’s failure to fill a vacancy since July 2020.
He also says he understands they’ve failed to hold a council meeting since late November because of a lack of quorum and reminds them of their duties and responsibilities to ensure municipal business can move forward, and services continue for residents.
“That expectation includes you attending council meetings and filling the vacancy on council as soon as possible,” states the letter from Minister Clark. “The residents in the Municipality of West Nipissing deserve a council that is willing to work together in their best interests and move the business of the municipality forward.”
He points out the Municipal Act requires a municipality to appoint a person to fill a council vacancy or require a by-election to be held within 60 days of council declaring a seat vacant in most circumstances.
“Further cancellation of meetings or delaying of decisions could seriously impact the services the municipality provides to its residents and ultimately risks the municipality’s ability to meet its financial and legal obligations. For instance, the 2022 budget preparation decisions could, if delayed, seriously impact the municipality’s cash flow and ability to provide services.”
Clark says he’s asked staff in the Ministry’s Northern Municipal Services Office in Sudbury to be ready to assist the municipality with information and guidance on council and staff roles and responsibilities, council/staff relationships, accountability and transparency, and meeting requirements and procedures.
“Ministry staff will also be keeping me apprised of your progress,” Clark writes.