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UPDATE: Mayor-elect Philip Brown says he's fine with Charlottetown council limiting his powers

Deputy Mayor Mike Duffy chaired a special meeting of Charlottetown city council on Tuesday where council gave final approval to a new bylaw that limits the mayor’s powers. The mayor will no longer be solely responsible for naming standing committees and chairs. Instead, that will fall to a new advisory committee that the new council will have to create.
Deputy Mayor Mike Duffy chaired a special meeting of Charlottetown city council on Tuesday where council gave final approval to a new bylaw that limits the mayor’s powers. The mayor will no longer be solely responsible for naming standing committees and chairs. Instead, that will fall to a new advisory committee that the new council will have to create. - Dave Stewart

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It’s official: Charlottetown mayor-elect Philip Brown will have fewer powers than all of his predecessors.

And the same goes for all mayors across the province.

Charlottetown city council gave second and final reading (first reading was Nov. 30) to a procedural bylaw Tuesday removing the mayor’s unilateral power to select which councillors will serve on and chair the city’s standing committees.

Thanks to the Municipal Government Act, that executive team will now be picked from a council advisory committee consisting of the mayor, two members of council (nominated and ratified by motion of council) and the chief administrative officer in an advisory (non-voting) capacity.

The province initially gave all municipalities until Dec. 22 to get this done. Communities Minister Richard Brown announced in the legislature Tuesday the deadline is being extended six months.

Philip Brown.
Philip Brown.

Philip Brown said with that in mind, he’s surprised the outgoing Charlottetown council crunched everything into three days.

“I think it was rushed too quickly and I don’t know if councillors had the opportunity to look through it,’’ the incoming mayor said. “The devil is in the details.’’

This committee will establish all committee mandates, terms, objectives, tasks, duties and responsibilities on any matter of which council has requested.

Philip Brown and other mayors across the province will still be able to appoint a deputy mayor. Brown and the new council officially take office during a swearing in ceremony on Thursday afternoon.

On Tuesday, the outgoing council made a slight amendment to the procedural bylaw. Should council receive from its members more than two nominees to serve on the committee, then council will vote in two members by secret ballot.

The amendment and the procedural bylaw passed Tuesday 6-1, with Coun. Eddie Rice in opposition. Coun. Jason Coady was absent, as was Coun. Bob Doiron, who voiced his displeasure with the move in Monday’s Guardian.

“I don’t understand why we’re pushing this through at the 11th hour,’’ Rice said. “Let the new (council) that have to live with it go for it.’’

Deputy Mayor Mike Duffy, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, noted the outgoing council also dealt with other bylaws at the meeting such as the code of conduct, reserve fund, grants, fees and staffing. They didn’t want to push everything off onto the incoming council.

“The procedural bylaw passed here is only one of 10 pieces of amendments we put through in order to have the new council come in with a clean slate to work with,’’ Duffy said.

Duffy also stressed that even if the outgoing council had put the matter off for Brown and the new council to deal with, Brown would not have had carte blanche to name committees and chairs.

“The (provincial) act was passed a year ago. Any standing committees that would be named after this was proclaimed . . . would be chosen by council, not by the mayor. He would have had to follow (the Municipal Government Act).’’

Philip Brown acknowledged he has to follow the new rules.

“I’m taking the high road on this by saying ‘look we all have to work together’,’’ Brown said. “I said during the (election) campaign I’m only a leader amongst leaders. If (council) wants to share the responsibility . . . I’m fine with that.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Related: Trivers questions why P.E.I. municipalities now required to change committee process

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