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Grey Highlands council plans town-hall-style public meetings

Council aims to visit community halls for meetings without agendas, time limits, and formal minutes, allowing residents to talk freely
The new council for the Municipality of Grey Highlands. From left: coun. Tom Allwood, coun. Joel Loughead, deputy mayor Dane Nielsen, Mayor Paul McQueen, coun. Paul Allen, coun. Nadia Dubyk and coun. Dan Wickens.

Grey Highlands council wants to hear from the public at some town-hall-style meetings.

At its meeting on March 15, council voted 7-0 in favour of asking staff to come up with some dates and potential locations for some town hall meetings to hear from local residents. Council plans to hold up to four town hall meetings at various locations around the municipality.

The idea of holding multiple informal meetings to listen to concerns from the public was popular around the council table.

Mayor Paul McQueen said the concept would be meetings with “no agenda, no time limits, no decisions and no formal minutes.”

Council was also supportive of moving the meetings to various locations around the municipality including communities like: Priceville, Badjeros, Feversham, Kimberley, Rocklyn, Maxwell and Singhampton.

“It gives us the ability to meet and have discussions and conversations with our members of the community,” said Coun. Nadia Dubyk.

Council was also supportive of holding the meetings in-person, without a virtual component. As recording such a meeting would require more staff resources.

“The objective of a town hall should be for the residents to have as much opportunity to talk to council as possible,” said Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen.

McQueen suggested the meetings avoid the summer months to avoid them being scheduled during prime vacation season. Council also favoured holding the meetings in smaller community hall settings for a more intimate atmosphere.

“Let’s leave no hall unused,” said Coun. Joel Loughead. “We’re proud of (the halls) and I’m proud of our commitment to preserve them.”

Nielsen agreed and said he would like to see the town hall meetings avoid larger arenas (if possible) in order to stay away from the format of “council on a stage” talking to residents.

“The municipality owns lots of buildings that are more cozy,” he said.

Municipal staff will poll members of council for a date that is acceptable and will return to a future meeting with a suggestion for where and when the first town hall meeting can take place.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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