Coun. Lukas Oakley said he noticed an “irregularity” in how the county handles the delegate process compared with surrounding municipalities and wondered if there’s a more productive way to encourage “positive collaboration” with the public.Celeste Percy-Beauregard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Brant County has seen some heated and repeated presentations from the public at council meetings in recent months, yet councillors voted against reviewing the process by which locals can air their concerns.

At a Tuesday night council meeting, longtime councillor Robert Chambers called a resolution from Coun. Lukas Oakley to review the procedures relating to public delegations “offensive.”

“Citizens have a right to engage with their councillors,” Chambers said.

He noted that while some speakers get passionate, it hasn’t crossed a line. “No one’s ever … punched somebody in the face,” he said.

However, Oakley said his motion wasn’t a bid to “silence” the public.

He told The Spectator he noticed an “irregularity” in how the county handles the delegate process compared with surrounding municipalities, and wondered if there’s a more productive way to encourage “positive collaboration” with the public.

In nearby Brantford, delegations must stick to topics already on the council agenda, can only speak once to a topic and can’t deviate from the subject they’re delegating on, he said.

Woodstock, Norfolk, Cambridge, and Haldimand will only consider delegations presenting new information. “This clearly has been widely recognized as a necessary tool for productive public engagement,” Oakley said.


When someone brings something to council, councillors make their decision at that time — either by referring the matter to staff, receiving it as information, or granting a specific request, such as a noise bylaw exemption.

If the same information is presented again without new information on the topic, councillors can’t make a new decision without a two-thirds majority formal reconsideration vote, which can only happen once a year on a given topic, Oakley said.

He said he believes allowing repeated delegations on a topic that has already been handled serves to “misguide public expectations” with the potential to “cause confusion and mistrust in the government institution.”

Oakley said he encourages members of the public “to continue to engage, and to use the tools that are there to advance your interests,” and he looks forward to seeing delegates at council continuing to “fight for what you believe in.”

Celeste Percy-Beauregard’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about Brant County. Reach her at cpercybeauregard@torstar.ca.

By Celeste Percy-Beauregard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 02, 2024 at 07:41

This item reprinted with permission from   The Spectator   Hamilton, Ontario
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