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Letter addressed to council causes concern from councillor

Town Hall

The whereabouts of a letter from a constituent and how it was handled was a cause for concern from one member of Amherstburg town council.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she brought in a letter from a resident and gave it to Mayor Michael Prue April 3. She said it was directed to all of council, and wondered about the letter’s whereabouts.

“Members of the public are able to submit that correspondence to members of council and I think that was done,” said clerk Kevin Fox. “Following that, we did certainly speak with the resident about their concern and hopefully found a productive solution to their concerns.”

Pouget asked if the letter was distributed to members of council and Fox indicated he was under the assumption Pouget was doing that.

“No, I talked to the mayor and he said to give it to you and ask that it be put under correspondence,” said Pouget, in response to Fox. “I just can’t deliver a letter to council. I had to go through the proper procedure.”

Fox said concerns have been addressed with the resident and more information can be provided to council. Pouget said “it was very specific” that the letter go to all of council, with the letter being regarding a right-of-way to their property and grandfathering their home and easement.

CAO Valerie Critchley said the letter was delivered to her as well and believed administration was directed to look into the matter. She said Pouget was advised that the residents were being worked with.

“I’ll take responsibility that the letter isn’t on the council agenda because I felt the matter had been dealt with,” said Critchley.

Pouget called for council to receive a copy of all correspondence sent to them with Critchley agreeing, stating a copy should have been placed in council members’ mailbox.

“I thought you were delegating it for administration to deal with,” said Critchley.

Fox apologized and believed it was a misunderstanding as he received a photocopy that he thought was distributed more broadly. Pouget believed it was “very inappropriate” that council did not receive the letter.

Prue asked if the issue of a report could be brought back to a future meeting so that it could be discussed by council. “I just want assurances that when a letter is brought in, that everyone from council, and it stresses members of council, are entitled to get our mail,” said Pouget.

Councillor Don McArthur asked for clarification on the matter, wanting to know if a resident dropped off a letter at town hall or whether Pouget was given the letter to give to council.

“If (the latter) is the case, why didn’t you give it to council?” McArthur asked Pouget.

Pouget said she was asked to bring it to Prue and make sure it was given to council. She said Prue read the letter and asked Fox to put it on the agenda.

“You could have just put it in our mailbox. That would have worked,” said McArthur. 

Pouget said specific things were asked of council in the letter.

Councillor Linden Crain said “we praise in public and criticize in private.”

“This is a 20-minute conversation about a letter that could have been addressed privately,” said Crain. “I feel like we’re wasting staff’s time and the public’s time talking about this.”

Pouget agreed the matter could be dealt with in-camera, adding she wanted assurances council could get correspondence sent to them.

Fox said the procedural bylaw states “only correspondence elements that comes from other levels of government or other associations are those are relevant for agenda items.” Other matters can be raised under new business “which is what we are doing today.”

Letter addressed to council causes concern from councillor

By Ron Giofu

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