This is exciting: Kelly Elliott is the first Canadian councilor on the podcast! You probably know her as the co-founder of “I Love Thorndale” and a player in the “Girls With Balls” hockey league. But did you know she was embroiled in a dust-up over so-called illegal council meetings?! (Also, Thames Centre council meetings need more viewers, stat!)
Q: There’s something we’ve gotta talk about: Thames Centre is a municipality. Here in the U.S., “municipality” usually means city or town. In a few states, they’ve got boroughs or townships, but those states are weird and frankly they should be kicked out of this country. What is the “Municipality of Thames Centre?”
A: The municipality was actually two townships that amalgamated in 2001. Our municipality is mostly rural areas. We have two villages and a handful of little hamlets.
Q: What would it take for you to become a city?
A: I don’t know what the full step is!
Q: Well, I called up my boys at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for Ontario. It turns out, municipalities can decide what to call themselves. If you wanted to start being the “City of Thames Centre,” you just have to change your stationery and business cards!
A: We’re nice rural country folk. We don’t want to be known as “city!”
Q: I noticed that the mayor wears a very ornate necklace. What is that thing and what kind of powers does it give him?
A: It doesn’t give him much more powers. The mayor has exactly the same weight of vote as anyone else on council. He just leads the meeting and keeps everyone in line.
Q: In October 2016, the deputy mayor said that some councilors were holding “illegal meetings.” Apparently, one day after a council meeting, Councilor Alison Warwick, Councilor Jennifer Coghlin, and you were sitting in the chamber talking about your son who was in the hospital for a head injury. Is that where this misunderstanding came from?
A: That’s right. Having three of us together is quorum. So without a clerk, that would make it an illegal meeting IF we were discussing or furthering the business of the municipality. Of course, we weren’t doing that. But the deputy mayor had thought we were possibly discussing municipal issues.
Q: Did he come over and ask what you were talking about?
A: Probably a great thing would’ve been to come chat with us and he would’ve seen what we were discussing! But we just had a meeting on Monday–everyone was getting along.
Q: Do people show up at the council meetings to give you a hard time?
A: I wish we had more people like that! Our gallery is pretty bare for the majority of meetings. Not many people come just to watch us.
Q: So you would be okay with people showing up to criticize you because that means at least they’re showing up?
A: At least they’re coming, at least they’re caring what we’re talking about. When we see empty galleries, it makes you feel like you’re not doing anything important.
Q: Well, this is Canada, so you’re not doing anything important–
A: Oh, that’s rough.
Q: I’m kidding! I might need to be a refugee there in a couple of months….
Follow Councilor Kelly Elliott on Twitter: @