May 8, 2019 9:17 am

London council shoots down bid to turn city councillor jobs full-time

Coun. Michael Van Holst during a committee meeting on Dec. 4, 2018.

Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

One city councillor’s push to make sitting on council a full-time, daytime job was shot down by his colleagues last night.

“I can’t tell you how tired I am of this navel-gazing that’s going on,” said Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire, of a change being championed by Ward 1’s Michael Van Holst.

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“When this stuff comes up, it offends me to some extent. I’m not a full-time councillor. It’s not because I’m not dedicated, or committed to this job. I think there is a huge value for me to be out in a different community, getting input, talking to them, interacting with them, representing people with disabilities, representing other people.”

READ MORE: Colleagues uninterested as London Coun. Michael van Holst seeks support to make position full time

Van Holst believes councillors would be in a better position for “driving change” if they had a regular, daytime work schedule and were able to hold regular office hours to meet with constituents.

“Having daytime hours might also give us the opportunity for smaller council, fewer number of councillors. We should make that decision as well, and then we can instruct staff to do a boundary review for whatever number of councillors we think is the most appropriate,” he explained.

But there was some confusion as to what exactly Van Holst was pitching to councillors, with colleagues noting a disparity between a motion on the floor about holding daytime office hours and a verbal explanation that included mention of moving council and committee meetings into the day as well.

READ MORE: Coun. Michael van Holst seeks federal Conservative nomination in London-Fanshawe

“If the councillor wants to talk about those things, he should change his motion to talk about daytime office hours,” said Ward 7 Coun. Josh Morgan, who also serves as the chair of the governance working group.

Mayor Ed Holder, meanwhile, criticized Van Holst for a “rambling approach” to his explanations.

“It does cause some challenge when we receive a report, and then an amendment that may not be as clear, or perhaps even potentially thought out that comes to the floor, and then we have a round of dialogue about what we think the motion is,” said Holder.

“It’s silly to go through this.”

A motion to further examine the feasibility of holding meetings and office hours during the day ultimately failed by a narrow 8-7 vote.

READ MORE: City committee backs Victoria Park development study

In a separate vote, councillors also endorsed a list of recommendations for developing land around Victoria Park.

Under current zoning bylaws, high-rise towers slated for the area can be up to 35 storeys tall.

The full draft development plan is expected back at city hall in June.

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