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REPORTING · 19th April 2011
Walter McFarlane
The Commission for Persons with Disabilities came up at the City Council Meeting on Monday, April 4th. Councillor Bob Corless made a motion to give it 3 readings. Councillor Randy Halyk asked what was going on.

“There was a request to reduce this to 5 [people] and now it’s being increased to 9 [people] and I’d like to get clarification on how it changed so radically?” asked Halyk.

At the Council Meeting on February 21st, Councillor Corrine Scott had made a motion to reduce the number of seats on the commission for persons with Disabilities down from 7 to 5. The reason she gave for this is so the group has quorum if they cannot find enough volunteers.

When the commission disbanded, a reason given was because the group could not get quorum. By reducing the number from 7 to 5, the number required for Quorum drops as well from 4 to 3.

Corless explained the change Council was being asked to vote on as Scott had the same question. “We’ve had quite a few people apply for the position and we felt the more is better. That is the reason for increasing the number rather then keeping people down,” said Corless.

Scott pointed out they have given the motion three readings prior for the group of five. They then advertised and got a number of volunteers. “So then the bylaw is being amended yet again after being given three readings at 5. I’m not sure I agree with that. I think that increasing it to 8 which is more then any other commission that the District of Kitimat has, puts an onus on people with disabilities to have to make sure that they have 5 members at least at every meeting where as every other commission has 4 required for a quorum. The original bylaw was amended was for 5 member, 3 for a quorum and the reasoning for that was because the persons with disabilities have more problems attending meetings for one thing. A second reason was the make up of the community, the percentage of people with disabilities in the community reflect the smaller number on the commission,” said Scott.

She added if more people wanted to be at the meetings, they could attend the meetings which will run like the KHAG meetings. Halyk reminded Council this commission was housed under one roof with two other commissions. This new commission was brought out from under the roof to give a voice to the people with disabilities. He said making it larger did not make any sense and he was unaware how many people in Kitimat had disabilities. He suggested Council find out. He could not accept the decision without knowledge.

“We had quite a few who did apply. Each one seemed to have a different need so therefore, we thought it would be good if all sorts of people with disabilities would be on this commission and that everyone would have their own voice and then they could all say what they needed to the community,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan.

The motion was called and negated. Councillor Mario Feldhoff, Halyk and Scott were opposed. Acting Municipal Manager, Walter McLellen said with the motion negative in this matter, it would go back on the agenda when all of the Councillors were present. Councillor Gerd Gottschling was away.

However, Scott questioned the ruling. “Am I correct or not, in believing the motion was passed that in the original bylaw, with amendments, 5 members was given all three readings, why would this have to be coming back again. All staff members were present at that meeting,” said Scott.

McLellan said their practice with negative motions was to bring them back. Scott was confused. The bylaw was in place and it requires 5 members. McLellen said a negative motion neither passed or failed so their practice is to bring them back so they can deal with it with a majority there.

Feldhoff said the instruction was the final adoption; for five people, so they should move forward with the 5. If they increase the number of people in the commission, they can increase the number then.

Halyk was confused by this long standing practice. He was never told he could bring back a negated motion and pointed out that Former Councillor Richard McLaren tried to bring back a controversial motion as well but could not come back because he was away.

“I was always under the impression that if you’re not here, you’re not here. The votes made and that’s the vote,” said Halyk.

McLellen stated he could not recall a situation with a negative motion.

Scott made a motion to appoint five people to the commission as the current bylaw says. Monaghan said they will wait for 6 councillors to come back but was told: “No,” by her Council. “The bylaw is in place,” said Scott.

McLellan explained they have already selected four members for the commission and they would be discussed ‘in camera’ later in the meeting.

At the City Council Meeting on April 19th, Mary Monteiro, Rene Jenster, Ernest Archer and Danielle McGrath were appointed to the Advisory Commission for Person’s with Disabilities. Mike Forward was appointed to the Advisory Recreation Commission.