Discussions continue over the handling of a notice of motion by Councillor Marni Fedeyko on Sept. 25.

On Oct. 1, Cochrane resident Ron Voss filed a complaint about the handling of the notice of motion.

Councillor Fedeyko's motion called for a public confidence vote by town council on the leadership of Cochrane CAO Mike Derricott. It was defeated 6-0 after Councillor Fedeyko left the chambers.

Voss, who has expressed concern over the application of council's procedural bylaw in the past, believes the way it was managed was out of order and should be struck from the record.

"The main issue is that the notice of motion is not subject to debate and vote," believes Voss. "That is very clear from the procedure bylaw. The debate and the vote should be deemed out of order and considered null and void."

Mayor Genung indicated during the Sept. 25 meeting that the proper procedure was being followed.

At last night's committee-of-the-whole meeting, Jaylene Knight, town director of legislative and administrative services, said the language in this section is among the ones being examined in a current review of the bylaw. Currently, she says when notices of motions are made, they automatically become part of council's agenda package.

"The way this council has handled that is those votes have taken place in that space. So my intent is to ensure the language around that is very clear so that everyone on council has a greater understanding of how those notices of motion are being handled and everyone in the community as well. Overall, that's the goal in every section of this bylaw." 

Fedeyko said last night she believes the handling of her notice of motion did not follow council's procedural bylaw. To her surprise, the motion was discussed at length at the meeting.

"I had no intent of having that notice of motion debated, discussed," she said last night. "There were people who had obviously written comments that they were going to provide. None of it was appropriate. It was only to be laid on the floor because if you actually read the procedure bylaw, when it's a notice of notice of motion, it's to be placed on the agenda and debated at the next meeting. It wasn't up for debate, and there was no two-thirds vote."

Councillor Alex Reed said he's looking forward to the first draft of the revisions to clarify the interpretation of the procedural bylaw, referencing both Voss and Fedeyko's motion in his comments.

"I think it'll reaffirm in so many ways what we are currently doing," said Reed. "If I understood you correctly, it isn't that there have been problems with those, some members of our community, actually one member of our community that in particular who has been raising procedural questions, it's their interpretation of that. And so if you can provide clarity to them, that would be great.

"What I took from that, though, is that there's nothing that we've done to date that would violate any of those principles as they're currently constituted. It's just making clarity around it, including the notice of motion that happened at the last meeting."

At a council committee-of-the-whole meeting on Mar. 20, Voss pushed to have the town's code of conduct bylaw amended to give the public the right to lodge complaints against town councillors.

He also questioned why Mayor Jeff Genung ignored the procedural bylaw by participating in council debates without removing himself from the chair. He used that as an example of why residents should have the right to file a complaint.

"In their Code of Conduct, a formal complaint can only be made by the councillors themselves, which to me is inadequate because they only regulate themselves, and they need some kind of accountability if they don't regulate themselves, which I often found to be the case when the mayor was not following the bylaw with respect to vacating his chair when he wanted to participate in the debate. None of them wanted to step up and lodge a complaint."

His presentation and interpretation helped trigger the review that's now underway.

In her report to town council, Knight said it's become clear the procedural bylaw is creating confusion for residents. Upon closer examination, it was discovered to also be creating challenges for council and town administration.

Last night, she sought input from town councillors on the review. Some provided candid comments on areas they found troublesome.

The procedural bylaw was put in place in 2019 by the current council. It has been subject to several revisions over the years.

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