At their April 6 meeting, Tudor and Cashel Township council voted to not proceed with its new Finance and Asset Management Committee bylaw, effectively ending the FAMC. Mayor Libby Clarke maintains that council wanted the FAMC to succeed and the decision to end it was not taken lightly. While council had a new bylaw drafted by their lawyers to more comprehensively detail the committee’s mandate and responsibilities, and at least some of the committee wanted to continue with it despite the alleged lack of communication and disrespect shown to them, council voted not to continue with the FAMC due to the committee having met a couple of times prior to its first meeting, which they say was in contravention of the township’s volunteer code of conduct and procedural bylaws. Councillor Bob Bridger and the now defunct FAMC volunteers disputed this and were against ending it and being able to provide their financial advice to council. After some discussion, the revised FAMC bylaw was nonetheless voted down, and the committee was shelved.
The FAMC arose from a motion at the Oct. 6 council meeting to draft a procedural bylaw to create the committee and solicit volunteers for it. At the next council meeting on Nov. 3, the bylaw to establish the committee and the procedures to govern its proceedings was passed as bylaw 2020-40. The township saw the move as a cost saving measure, which would also use the financial acumen of some of its residents to move forward with its financial and asset management plans.
However, the council voted to rescind the bylaw establishing the FAMC pending a legal review of the bylaw requested by Clarke at their Feb. 2 council meeting. This was in response to the committee’s request for bylaw clarification at their Jan. 25 meeting, so they could better understand and articulate their duties and responsibilities going forward.
Clarke, as she had in the Feb. 2 council meeting, stressed in an April 10 email that as mayor she had to make certain that she exercised the duties she’d been given by making absolutely certain about the role of the advisory committees along with functions and powers.
“Therefore, I decided to send the amended bylaw to our lawyer for clarification and to set the playing field so that we would have success with this committee. I know that I thanked the volunteers at this meeting for their service and expressed my gratitude for their individual talents and resources. I expressed how fortunate we were to have them in our community. I did not realize that they had been meeting throughout the month of January on their own which would have certainly involved a huge amount of time and effort on their part,” she says.
Aside from the bylaw revision, there was also a scheduling conflict between Councillor Noreen Reilly and the other eight members of the committee. In an April 10 email, Clarke said her understanding was that Reilly was available Mondays and all other evenings but the volunteers wanted the meetings held Tuesday mornings.
“I am certain that [Reilly] at the next meeting would have provided information to the committee about our volunteer policy, code of conduct and procedural bylaw. However, that opportunity never arose,” she says.
The bylaw and its proposed revisions were still with the township lawyer as of the March 2 council meeting, and the revised bylaw was finally ready for the April 6 meeting.
At that meeting, Jerry Chadwick, the chair of the now defunct FAMC, spoke to council. He thanked them for allowing him to speak and said he’d had a home on North Jordan Lake Road for the past 22 years. He said that although he had heard the FAMC called the “get my road plowed” committee, his own home was on a road that was plowed all year, so that was never his intention with wanting be on the FAMC.
“I’m hoping that the motion will be passed, despite some issues, and that the FAMC will be reconvened immediately,” he says.
Chadwick went on to offer an example of the benefit of the FAMC to the township. One of the committee members, Dave Hederson, had contacted Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, about paying off the township’s grader loan. After researching the options, Hederson met with Carrol and discussed his findings, and according to Chadwick, Carrol had seemed grateful for the advice. This example was given to show the sound financial advice the FAMC could give council and staff to help them save money, and was the type of interaction that the volunteers had envisioned when they first signed up, according to Chadwick.
“However, by rescinding the bylaw, there’s a missed opportunity to get advice on the audit statements and the budget probably,” he says.
Chadwick said that he hoped with this new bylaw, the members of the committee would be able to elect a chair at the first meeting and the scheduling conflicts could be resolved as well. He also commented on what he saw as the disrespectful way that the FAMC volunteers had been treated and the lack of communication overall from the township to the committee over the past several months. These two issues; lack of communication and disrespect to volunteers were also brought up by Hederson in an April 7 email sent to Mayor Clarke, the Tudor and Cashel councillors and his fellow FAMC volunteers.
Chadwick hoped that going forward, there would be greater communication between the township and the FAMC, and that all volunteers be treated with the respect they deserve.
“The committee has asked for the definition of the term finance, which is not included in the new bylaw. So, can I assume that once the FAMC is struck, assuming the motion passes, that the first meeting will include revising the bylaw? Members need to understand the expectations and limitations before they try to move forward,” he says.
Later on in the April 6 meeting, council voted to receive the new FAMC bylaw 2021-10, and Clarke opened up the floor to discussion. Bridger asked if they intended to start all over again with the FAMC and repost the ad for volunteers.
“We don’t have a committee as it stands now and as Mr. Chadwick explained, some or all of the eight volunteers from before may not want to return. So, if we pass this bylaw, what does it mean? We’re going to establish a committee?” he says.
Councillor Roy Reeds said he had concerns with the FAMC in that they had met twice before by Zoom before the first meeting on Jan. 25, without the township’s attendance or knowledge.
“As Mr. Chadwick said, they were holding meetings amongst themselves which is totally against our bylaws, our code of conduct bylaws and procedural bylaws. They can’t do that. This should not go forward and I think it should just end,” he says.
Pat Stallaert, who was also a member of the FAMC, said in an April 9 email they weren’t even shown the bylaws in question, and if those bylaws had been contravened, a warning to the FAMC would have sufficed, not its dissolution.
“If indeed the township’s code of conduct or procedural bylaws were not followed, and there is strong evidence to suggest that this was not the case, it was council and staff’s responsibility to ensure these directives were provided and made known to every member of every committee. Making this the case after the fact doesn’t permit council to level these accusations of inappropriate conduct beforehand,” he says.
Stallaert alleges that Reeds’ concerns about these meetings were unfounded and were ultimately an excuse to get rid of the FAMC and prevent them from continuing on.
Deputy Mayor Ronald Carroll, as he had at the Feb. 2 council meeting, thought the bylaw and the committee should be abolished, and he put forward a motion to that effect on April 6. Unlike on Feb. 2, however, when nobody supported the motion, this time around, Reilly and Reeds supported it. Not surprisingly, Bridger was totally opposed to shelving the FAMC.
“Being that they had meetings prior to their first meeting at which point they’d elect a chair and decide all the other things that get involved with a committee, what they did does not contravene those bylaws. There was no quorum, there was no committee, there was nothing decided,” he says.
Bridger brought up again how Hederson had helped out Carrol in regard to the grader loan.
“[Reeds] is saying we don’t need these guys. Mr. Hederson stepped in and put $5,000 in our pockets, on one little item, and now you’re saying we don’t need them?” he says.
Bridger emphatically reiterated to council that despite their concerns around the FAMC meeting before Jan. 25, the new bylaw should be approved and go forward, allowing them to continue their work. However, with Reeds, Carroll and Reilly in opposition to receiving the new bylaw, and Reilly and Reeds supporting Carroll’s motion to abolish it, council ended up voting to end the FAMC.
Clarke commented on the shelving of the FAMC in an April 10 email, saying that council’s decision not to go forward with the new bylaw was not made lightly.
“Council from the outset was unanimously in favour of the formation of this committee and excited about the talents and expertise within the committee members. I have said this before and it is worth repeating. The greatest asset to our community is its people; young, old, local, seasonal, retired, working, businesses and volunteers. Tudor and Cashel would not exist without the cooperation and support of ALL residents,” she says. “The collaborations and adaptations that I have seen and continue to see within our community is what makes this community strong.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times