Tonight's Township council meeting begins at 7pm. The full package - inc lots of reports - is at…. Watcah live at… or follow along here 👇
Mayor Armstrong gets the meeting underway. He acknowledges #BlackHistoryMonth : "In Canada, celebrations honour the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians." He asks for a moment's silence in memory of the Quebec Mosque shooting four years ago.
Coun Gordijk with the land acknowledgement.
No additions to the agenda. Mayor Armstrong declares a pecuniary interest (11.3.3 REPORT NO. ILS 2021-07 - Integrity Commissioner’s Report)
Minutes of the previous council meeting have been approved.

First item is a zone change application. Andrew Martin (Manager of Planning/EDO) presents his report about a property in Baden.

Coun Pfenning asks about its close proximity to the rail tracks setback.
Mr Martin says it meets CN's setback requirements of 30 metres. There are comments expected from the Region.

He answers Coun Fisher's questions about land donated to the Township, and also about storm water management. The latter will be addressed with the engineering review.
The applicant and consultant are in the meeting as delegations. Caitlin Port is first up to describe the property and project.
The proposal is to change the zoning to allow for an increase to 22 back-to-back residential properties.
No other speakers on this item.

RECOMMENDATION - THAT Report DS 2021-002 be received for information.

There's another zone change application, also in Baden. Mr Martin presents his report about the application, which is to change a residential property to commercial (office spaces).

No questions from council.
RECOMMENDATION - THAT Council approve Zone Change Application 02/21 made by Jon Lambert Lot 39 and Part of Lots 40 and 41, Plan 627 to change the zoning of the subject property from Zone 3 (Residential) to Zone 5 (Commercial) and to allow for off-street parking.

Dawn Mittelholtz (Director of Clerk's Services/Director of Information and Legislative Services) is introducing a report about the Twp's branding.
"A branding review was approved by Council as part of the 2020 Budget. Aubs & Mugg Inc conducted public consultation to develop a branding direction for the township through public, Council, and staff consultation."
Matthew Aubie, creative director from branding consultancy Aubs & Mugg Inc, is giving a presentation about his firm's recommendations.
The three Wilmot identities, plus some potential brand applications.
(From a design perspective, this is a really good, clear description of how Aubs & Mugg developed this branding. Matt Aubie has explained what the various components mean, and how his company got here.)
Coun Hallman says she's excited to see this come to fruition. She says she loves how Matt captured the community, and she thanks everyone who made this happen.

Ms Mittelholtz discusses which other departments will be using the branding.
The funding for this "Communications Modernization" was approved in the 2020 budget, pre-COVID. Aubs & Mugg's services cost $13,228. The remaining $26,772 from the budget will go towards "initial implementation of the brand strategy and updates to the township website in 2021."
Ms Mittelholtz: The branding application will be rolled out gradually.
Coun Pfenning says she loves the result.

Coun Gerber thanks the team for their work on this. He says that Matt's words this evening gave the project life. "Really look forward to seeing this move forward."
Coun Fisher echoes what everyone else said, and thanks the teams involved with this project. He says he loves it.

Mayor Armstrong says thanks everyone for all their hard work.
THAT the recommendations and Corporate Identity presented by Aubs & Mugg Inc. and endorsed by the Senior Management Team, for Direction 2 be approved; and,
THAT the Information and Legislative Services Department be directed to implement the branding strategy.
Recommendation is carried.
Patrick Kelly (Director of Finance) with the Twp's budget report. See p61 for the full package. "The 2021 Municipal Budget is balanced, and indicative of the collaborative efforts of staff and Members of Council in meeting the needs of this community for 2021 and moving forward."
"The Committee directed staff that the 2021 Budget be prepared to reflect an inflationary levy increase of 1.90%, along with a dedicated infrastructure investment of 2.00%."
"Based on the review & analysis of dept budget proposals, and the input of Comm Members & staff over the past several weeks, the Comm has managed to achieve a balance budget, while continuing with the past practice of inflationary increases to the levy for municipal operations."
"The tax rate calculations will be completed based upon the levy requirement and will be incorporated into the final property tax bills to be distributed in June 2021. The impact of the levy adjustments outlined above will be $38.23, based on an average assessment."
"In 2020, $980.36 of the average residential property taxes were remitted for Township of Wilmot services, with the remainder allocated to the Region of Waterloo ($2,067.14) and area school boards ($625.16)."
Mr Kelly thanks staff across the organization for their hard work, and council for their support.

Mayor Armstrong also thanks Mr Kelly and the ad hoc budget committee.
Coun Pfenning thanks Mr Kelly and everyone around the virtual horseshoe during a difficult year. "Thank you for all your hard work and for delivering this budget."
Coun Fisher says he feels blessed that the Township has such competent staff, as do residents.
Coun Hallman acknowledges how difficult this year's budget was, and thanks everyone involved.
Coun Gordijk thanks everyone. She says she's had a few, not many, residents who have asked why Wilmot doesn't have a 0% budget increase.

Mr Kelly says Wilmot looked to inflationary cost increases. Costs don't go down, so the Township had to look to a responsible increase.
That the 2021 Municipal Budget dated February 1, 2021, as recommended by the ad hoc Budget Advisory Committee, be approved; and further...
That the Director of Corporate Services / Treasurer be authorized to prepare the necessary levying by-law to raise $9,087,350 for Township purposes from general taxation.

Next is the consent agenda, which has seven items.

Coun Hallman asks for one item to be removed. Coun Gordijk asks for an item to be removed as she has some clarification questions.
The other five items on the consent agenda have been carried.
Coun Gordijk asks Rod Leeson (Fire Chief) about recruitment numbers (9), and asks if there might be more later in the year. Chief Leeson says 90 is the benchmark the service is aiming for, and these 9 will take the current number to 87.

This agenda item is now carried.
Coun Hallman asks Sandy Jackson (Director of Facilities & Recreation Services) if the vacancy in the Parks Facilities division has been filled; it hasn't, yet.

The Facilities & Recreation Services activity report has been received for information.
Next is a report presentation from Jeff Molenhuis (Director of Public Works): Wilmot Street Reconstruction and Gingerich Road Watermain Connection Improvements – Award of Contract.
Coun Hallman: Asks about project information signage, which Mr Molenhuis said will be available for this.

Coun Pfenning says she's happy to see this project proceeding. Mr Molenhuis speaks to scheduling difficulties of manging multiple crews during COVID.
THAT RFT 2020-24 be awarded to BEECH Infrastructure Group for the reconstruction of Wilmot St in New Hamburg and Gingerich Rd Watermain Connection Improvements in Baden in the amount of $1,957,305.10 plus HST.

Next: Ms Jackson is discussing the Wilmot Horticultural Society Agreement with the Township for five years. She thanks the society for their tireless work making sure that so many flowerbeds around Wilmot.
Coun Pfenning praises Wilmot Horticultural Society volunteers for stepping up for their community.

THAT the five (5) year agreement between the Township of Wilmot and the Wilmot Horticultural Society be endorsed.

Next: The 2021-2024 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. Tracey Murray (Deputy Clerk) presents the report.

Coun Gordijk asks for "Camel Case" to be used for hashtags in social media, which helps with browser readers for the visually impaired. (#CamelCase alphabetizes individual words)
There's a discussion about the wording of the section regarding service animals in certain areas/situations.
THAT the 2021-2024 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan be endorsed.

Next: Ms Mittelholtz with a report about the Canadian Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities: "Staff was requested to report back to Council on February 8, 2021 on the process and possibility of joining the Canadian Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities."
Coun Gerber says it's good to see the Township's proposed initiatives included in the report.

Coun Gordijk thanks Ms Mittelholtz for preparing this report so quickly. Says she knows this isn't an easy undertaking, and asks when to expect the follow up.
Ms Mittelholtz says she's hesitant to give a timeline for completion due to the many steps and people involved. She says that she can provide updates as the consultation process progresses.
Coun Gordijk asks if it would be possible to reach out to the clerk of Guelph who recently completed their application. Ms Mittelholtz says that she will contact Guelph to find the best person to connect with, as well as Stratford who are already members.
THAT staff continue to work with the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to consider and prepare an application to join the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities.

Mayor Armstrong calls on Coun Gordijk to take over as Chair for the next part of the meeting.

Council is now discussing the Integrity Commissioner’s Report.
Ms Mittelholtz introduces the integrity commissioner's report. Summary: "The Integrity Commissioner is an independent third-party who is hired by the Township to provide advice and train Members of Council and Local Boards on the Code of Conduct..."
"...and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and to receive inquiries when members of Council or Local Boards are believed to have breached the Code of Conduct. The attached report was prepared in response to inquiries received."
"The attached report was received from Dr. Robert Williams, Integrity Commissioner, in response to inquiries he received in 2020. The Integrity Commissioner is an independent third party and his report is provided as such."
Chair Gordijk provides guidelines for delegations:

If you conduct yourself in any of the following manners, it will result in an immediate muting and removal from the meeting:
- Interrupting Councillors, staff or other delegations;...
- Derogatory statements about Councillors, staff or others;
- Hate speech or defamatory comments.
First delegation is Nancy Birss. She says that this will make people not want to run for council and calls this a "witch hunt". Says that the mayor was being honest when asked a question by a reporter.
She says the mayor should be allowed to get on with the work he was elected to do. She asks for the report and the recommendation of a pay cut be rejected by council.
Next delegation is David Atkinson. He says the mayor is unfairly being treated as a lightning rod for bullying. He says that if any of the complainants are married to a councillor, this should be noted.

(FWIW, I am not one of the complainants.)
Mr Atkinson says that the mayor was exercising his free speech. He says that in no way was he being disrespectful and that the report should be rejected outright.
Glen Mathers is the next delegation. He says that in a 2020 meeting, a councillor wanted to dismiss delegations and not allow them to speak. He repeats a question from a Luisa D'Amato article: Is there something going on in Wilmot?
This is the IC report, which is being voted on to be received, but not necessarily accepted at this time.
Mayor Armstrong declines the offer to speak.

Coun Pfenning requests that Dr Williams verifies or dispels the accusation that a request was submitted by someone who is connected to a member of council.
Dr William says that neither of the complainants are connected to a member of council, nor are they connected to any previous complaints.
In answer to Coun Fisher, Dr Williams explains that the Code of Conduct can't express differences during debate. But once the matter is closed - after a vote and a decision is made - council members are expected to respect the decision reached by their colleagues.
Dr Williams says that did not happen.

Coun Gerber asks if the Township's code of conduct are specified in the province's Municipal Act. Dr Williams says the Act stipulates a code must be produced, but the details aren't mentioned.
Dr Williams draws the distinction between anonymity and confidentiality.

(The Municipal Act - which is under the purview of and written by the ON govt - stipulates that confidentiality is required in Code complaints. See 223.5…)
Dr Williams says this is about honouring the decision that was reached, even if a council member disagrees. That is part of the Code of Conduct.
Dr Williams said he heard nothing from anyone that would suggest the mayor was misquoted.
Coun Gerber asks how often Dr Williams how often his recommendations are modified. Dr Williams says that council does not have to accept a recommendation.
Coun Pfenning has a general statement about what is being considered tonight. She says making a decision does not give her any joy. She wholeheartedly agrees with residents who want to be able to move on, but this is a conversation that needs to be had.
Coun Pfenning says that the IC made his findings independently, not politically. What matters is that if council's decisions can be maligned, we all lose. She says that the mayor effectively disenfranchised any local people who spoke in favour of the decision council made...
...when he said council caved to outsiders. That ignores people who have lived here their whole lives, and Indigenous people.
Mayor Armstrong personally confirmed to Coun Pfenning that he wasn't misquoted. She asks Mayor Armstrong if she can put some questions to him. He agrees.

She asks if residents should have a right to see things differently and not be considered an outsider?
Mayor Armstrong says that he never said that.

Coun Pfenning says that by claiming council caved to outsiders implies that anyone who spoke on the topic were outsiders.
The mayor says "outsiders" means people who don't live in Wilmot. He says he considers people who live in Wilmot are his constituents.
"I will never say that I think that people who live in the township are outsiders." Mayor Armstrong

Coun Pfenning: That is what I was asking you to say.
Coun Pfenning says we've hired an expert IC, and now we have to decide how to address his findings.
Coun Gerber says he appreciates Mayor Armstrong's clarification. A good amount of concern is with the code of conduct document. He thinks the mayor violated the spirit and letter of the law (the code).
Coun Gerber thinks that the difference between the first code violation and this one is that the offended party is council. He says that he would like to move forward by accepting the report, but with one day's pay suspension, not the 30 recommended.
Coun Gerber was one of the four councillors who voted against the mayor. He says he didn't take offense to what the mayor said.
Now council is discussing pay, Mayor Armstrong's declaration of pecuniary interest comes into play.
Coun Fisher says he agrees with Coun Gerber. It's time to show kindness to each other. "A law is a law." One day's pay suspension would be the way to go.
Coun Pfenning disagrees with Coun Gerber's statement that council were the only offended parties. She says that impugning the process destroys trust.
Ms Mittelholtz is drafting the amended motion during this discussion.

Chair Gordijk reads a statement regarding the use of the word "outsider". One of the speakers who was an outsider is an Indigenous educator, and is an expert.
Council listens to opinions from outside the township all the time, such as the branding company this evening. She says some members of staff aren't from Wilmot, but we value their opinion.
One delegation asked to speak again, but they have already left the meeting.
Coun Gerber echoes Coun Fisher's comments about kindness and grace. He acknowledges that there will be some people who feel council hasn't gone far enough, and some who feel this should have been rejected. He hopes this evening's decision will help to move us forward.
He says the branding presentation tonight reminded him of what unites us in Wilmot.
This is the amended recommendation, which has been carried. The mayor's pay will be suspended for one day, not the recommended 30.
Mayor Armstrong is now chairing the meeting again.
Coun Gerber says he's looking forward to future #BlackHistoryMonth when there will be more input from local IBPOC residents.
Coun Fisher is talking about Wilmot Heritage Day. Details at
Coun Pfenning says the Heritage Committee is a lot of fun. "It's a wonderful group. I look forward to celebrating virtually."
She says #BlackHistoryMonth is important to her because she brings so many Jamaican temporary workers to the Pfenning's Farm. It's 53 years since the first Jamaicans came to Canada as part of the program.
She praises the workers at @TCMHomes who are taking care of local seniors. Her mother-in-law is a resident there.
Mayor Armstrong agrees that Nithview deserves that praise.
Coun Hallman is reading a statement about #BlackHistoryMonth . She advises people not to be colour blind, but be colour brave.
She talks about Jennifer Campbell, who died of cancer at the weekend. A New Dundee company is selling candles with the proceeds going to causes that Ms Campbell supported.
We're adjourned at 10:17pm.

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