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Frustration over council cancellations
For the second time in a row, restaurateur shows up to make a presentation for city leaders only to find out there is no quorum

Jessica Davey-Quantick
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

For the second time in a row, seats sat empty at city council.

NNSL photograph

The last two rounds of council and municipal service meetings were unable to attract a crowd at least not behind the bench. Since July 24, regularly scheduled meetings have been unable to attain a quorum of councillors. - NNSL file image

Monday's council meeting was cancelled and municipal services committee was unable make recommendations on agenda items, as fewer than the five councillors required to make quorum showed up for duty that day.

Couns. Julian Morse, Linda Bussey and Adrian Bell - who was acting as deputy mayor - were the only ones to arrive for the noon-hour meeting.

The previous meeting was scheduled for July 24, and only couns. Rommel Silverio, Adrian Bell, Steve Payne and Mayor Mark Heyck turned up.

Jason Perrino, owner of Twist & Shout, arrived to both municipal services committee meetings ready to make a presentation on behalf of his restaurant, and both times, he went away disappointed.

"I want to meet when there's quorum," he said. "I want to meet when things can happen. I don't want to meet just for the sake of meeting - I have things to do. I'm a business owner, I'm busy."

He wasn't informed before either meeting that the quorum hadn't been reached. As of press time, he hadn't heard from the city when he'd be rescheduled.

Stephanie Vandeputte, communications and economic development officer with the city, says this week's vacancies couldn't be helped.

"Quorum wasn't met because one of the councillors who was scheduled to be in attendance wasn't able to attend MSC due to an emergency," she stated in an email to Yellowknifer. She declined to specify what the emergency was, or which councillor was involved.

Vandeputte added everyone else on the schedule, other than Perrino, had chosen to make their presentation regardless.

"What a waste of time," said Perrino. "I'm not going to repeat myself."

Two items on the agenda, the repaving of Hall Crescent and the Dene Nahjo Urban Hide Tanning Camp, will be addressed at a special council meeting at 1:05 p.m. today, due to "time sensitivity" of the issues, wrote Vandeputte.

The Aug. 14 meeting will be rescheduled with a tentative date of Aug. 21, pending the approval of Acting Mayor Adrian Bell, according to Vandeputte, although she expressed doubt enough councillors will be around to make quorum for that meeting either.

"I'm not confident of that," she said, when asked about it.

Coun. Morse said it's unfortunate to see this happen twice in a row.

"I wouldn't say this is normal," he stated, adding he understands people take time out of their day to present to councillors. "Generally a meeting shouldn't be scheduled unless a majority of councillors have confirmed they can attend."

Council drops down to just two meetings a month over the summer to accommodate summer vacations. Coun. Bell suggested summer months aren't the best time to make presentations. He said even if council makes quorum, it's unlikely the full team will be on board.

"Bottom line is they're presenting to fewer council members," he said. "So if they want full attention on their agenda item, people are probably better off presenting in September rather than in August."

The city wasn't able to provide consolidated attendance records, but going over the minutes of meetings stretching back to July 11, 2016 to June 26 - the last time minutes were posted - Yellowknifer found that across the 22 council meetings, the full compliment of eight councillors and mayor had been in attendance 13 times.

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