Council meetings ‘not usually like this’

Shuniah, Ont. — Municipalities and townships across the nation could take a page from the way the Municipality of Shuniah does business. Keep regular council meetings to around 30 minutes.

In a whirlwind get together, Shuniah council zipped through the over 100-page agenda, mostly rubber-stamping the items that were presented.

At the end of the meeting, it led Shuniah Mayor Wendy Landry to caution new student councillor Olivia Kembel, “Don’t get excited Olivia, it’s not usually like this.”

Still, much business was done.

After approving the minutes from Feb. 14’s regular meeting, council discussed and eventually passed a bylaw to hire a chief building official, building inspector and plumbing inspector.

It was followed by a discussion on a letter from Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff asking Shuniah to appoint a volunteer host community representative for the 2024 Ontario Winter Games organizing committee with Bob Edwards receiving the nod, although the City is saying send more if you can.

“I had a meeting with (the 2024 Ontario Winter Games sponsorship committee) because I’m on the sponsorship committee for that and they’re just starting to get rolling right now as far as their sending out invitations and what have you,” said Shuniah Coun. Don Smith. “They will definitely be looking for a whole whack of volunteers.”

Upon wheeling through the pay equity maintenance report, MacGregor Recreation Centre programming for the next two months and new COVID-19 vaccination policy, council authorized training and development for all five council members and three administration staff pertaining to accountability and transparency, to be conducted by integrity commissioners Darrell Matson, Rosalie Evans and Ron Bourret.

Among the general correspondence that crossed the Shuniah council chamber’s tables was a letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding proposed changes to the use of floating accommodations and camping on water over public lands in Ontario, dropping the current 21-day stay to seven days before you would have to move at least a kilometre away from your original spot.

While that will be controversial enough, the ministry has also proposed changes to “harmonize” on-water camping conditions (limit of days) with on-land lodging to seven days from its current 21-day window before having to move.

“I don’t camp on Crown (land), but I know people who do and I think that’s not long enough,” said Shuniah Coun. Donna Blunt. “People get holidays and once you haul a motorhome and a boat and everything out there and by the time you get settled, you’ve got to turn around and go home.

“I have no problem with the water one, I think it makes sense and especially parked out in front of a developed shoreline. It can become a problem.”

Shuniah chief administrative officer Paul Greenwood and clerk Kerry Bellamy acknowledged that they would be attending two online MNRF information sessions regarding the changes and would pass on the municipality’s opinions on the matter.

The meeting wrapped up with council supporting the nomination of Landry for president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, which will be voted on April 26-28 in Thunder Bay at NOMA’s annual conference. Landry has been president of NOMA since 2017.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal