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Belleville city council rejects committee recommendation for new councillor

Council held a special meeting at 2p.m. to discuss the ad hoc committee’s recommendation.

By Beatrice Toplitsky [1]

BELLEVILLE – In a dramatic turn of events Wednesday afternoon, Belleville city council decided against receiving a report that recommended a replacement on council for Coun. Pat Culhane, who passed away in November.

The report, which was prepared by an ad hoc committee headed by Coun. Kelly McCaw and which was delivered Monday, recommended that Jennifer McTavish be appointed to council to replace Culhane.

But in a 5-3 vote, council decided not to receive the report.

Mayor Mitch Panciuk began the meeting hopeful that the report would be well received. You can hear the audio of Panciuk’s address to council at the end of this story.

“I choose to look at this as a call to welcome everyone to participate, and not just those of us who have the financial ability and other advantages that came from our positions of privilege prior to getting elected. The positive results of this process are significant and show what can occur when we make the efforts to encourage diversity and equity.”

When it came time to vote on receiving the report, Coun. Bill Sandison had a question.

“I just wanted to make sure that the motion on the floor is that we are just to receive the report,” he asked.

Mayor Panciuk confirmed that this vote would merely put the report before council. It wasn’t yet a vote to appoint the candidate.

Only Sandison, McCaw, and Panciuk in favour of receiving it.

The mayor then called a recess, during which he made a phone call to Coun. Garnet Thompson.

At the Dec 11 council meeting, Thompson put forward a notice of motion to revisit the vote to appoint local businessman Tyler Allsopp to council. That vote originally ended in a 4-4 tie.

Allsopp finished seventh in the Ward One race in the 2018 municipal election. The top six candidates were elected to council.

Panciuk gave Thompson the opportunity to put forward the motion revisiting the vote at Wednesday’s special meeting rather than waiting until next Monday when the motion was originally scheduled for.

Thompson declined.

“He gave me the prerogative to to do what I wanted, and I decided to hold back,” Thompson told QNet News. “I brought the motion forward and everyone was expecting it to be heard on Monday, so that’s when I wanted it to be heard.”

Thompson added that he would like to give the council time to reflect on the motion.

However, he is still hopeful that the council will vote to appoint Allsopp Monday.

“There was a lot of discussion by the public,” he said about the failed motion to appoint Allsopp. “They felt council had made the wrong move.”

As quick as the meeting began, it ended with nobody appointed to fill the vacant council seat. Including the recess, the whole meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

This Friday is the deadline the ministry of municipal affairs set to have the vacant seat filled.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs could call for an election, or it could force the council’s hand in appointing one of the candidates to the seat.

The recorded Belleville city council meeting can be found at this link. [2]

Mayor Mitch Panciuk’s speech from the Belleville city council meeting on Jan 20, 2021.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Panciuk-speech.m4a [3]