CSL Mayor, councillor weigh in on use of mayoral veto power

CSL councillor Mike Cohen

The Suburban asked Côte St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor Mike Cohen their general thoughts on a Mayor using his or her veto power.

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg has used his veto power to overrule council votes on several occasions, including a 5-0 vote approving a resident’s roof dimension minor exemption request (most of the council flipped at the next meeting and rejected the resident’s request after getting new information), and a 3-2 vote against spot zoning to replace the apartment building at 5781 and 5783 Côte St. Luc Road with a 10-storey more modern apartment building (two councillors later changed their vote, resulting in a 3-3 tie that was broken by the Mayor to approve the spot zoning.) In both cases, the Mayor said he exercised the veto partially because the entire council was not present (Councillor Harvey Shaffer was absent both times), although there was the required quorum. Another reason Steinberg gave was that he felt the votes were wrong.

Brownstein has not broken a tie let alone exercise his veto power.

“It’s a question of each Mayor having their own style, I guess,” the CSL Mayor said. “It’s not something I do. If you have the right to veto in the law and you want to use it, that’s your choice. As Mayor, I’d like to try and get the feeling, first of all, from the public on all issues, and then from my colleagues, and see if we can have a consensus, and if not, I let majority rule. To me, if there’s a tie, I just let it drop and that means it’s a No. That’s how I prefer to run things.”

Councillor Mike Cohen pointed out that at council meetings in general, there are occasions where not every councillor can be present.

“This is my opinion, I’m not taking a shot at a specific municipality, but if you have a quorum, you take the vote or you don’t put it on the agenda that night, which is different than a veto. There are times when there’s a specific dossier on an agenda and there’s a particular councillor — the issue might be in their district —and you want them to be there for the discussion.

“But once you have the vote, the vote is the vote. That’s my opinion.”

Hampstead has no area districts.

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