New Council governance structure to be introduced in 2021

Cobourg, ON – July 22, 2020 – Today, Northumberland County Council approved a new Council governance structure, coming into effect in January 2021, which includes the establishment of six Standing Committees:

  • Community Health Committee
  • Corporate Support Committee
  • Economic Development, Tourism & Planning Committee
  • Finance & Audit Committee
  • Public Works Committee
  • Social Services Committee

These committees will replace former informal monthly departmental information meetings held by staff and attended by various members of Council. Standing Committee meetings will be held each month in advance of monthly meetings of County Council. Each committee will be comprised of the County Warden and two members of Council. Members of the public will be invited to review meeting agendas and minutes, attend these meetings, and make delegations before the Committee.

“The introduction of Standing Committees will improve Council’s ability to keep residents informed about County programs and services, creating further opportunity for residents and business owners to be notified, in advance, of the matters that will come before Council,” states County Warden Bob Sanderson. “This new process will enhance community involvement in the priority-setting and decision-making processes of Council, creating additional opportunities for valuable input from the public and relevant experts through the delegation process.”

The Council governance model is the collected processes, procedures and oversight mechanisms employed by Council and County staff to carry out County responsibilities. The recommended governance principles approved today by Council include:

  • The primacy of Council in the decision-making process: Decisions must be made at the Council table. Council's role, in consultation with the CAO and staff, is to set the vision and direction for the County. Council adopts the policies, assigns the resources to achieve the objectives, and ensures fiscal and fiduciary oversight.
  • Standing Committees, advisory committees or ad hoc bodies that may be set up from time to time: Committees support Council’s primacy by developing recommendations for Council’s approval.
  • Transparency & Accountability: Governance procedures which support public notice of meetings, timely opportunities for input and information, and open debate, enhance transparency and accountability as well as the establishment of a clear public record.
  • Openness: Opportunities for professional staff advice, public input and community and stakeholder participation must be ensured, to support the making of informed decisions.

“As we continue to strive towards being a best practice leader in municipal government, it is important to review our governance structure from time to time to ensure Council’s strategic and operational interests are being best served,” states County CAO Jennifer Moore. “These changes will modernize our practices to align with the updated Municipal Act legislation, and will increase the opportunity for residents to learn about and engage with their local government.”

More information about the new governance model adopted today by County Council can be found in the staff report attached to the Council meeting agenda at Northumberland.ca/Portal. As plans move forward for the introduction of this model in January 2021 and additional details are finalized, this information will be shared with residents, including Terms of Reference for the committees, how to access agendas and minutes, and the process for making a delegation to a Standing Committee.