The re-organization of committees of council were a topic of discussion at the last council meeting on February 25. Before the municipal election, the previous council had extended the life of all the committees to facilitate a smooth transition into the new term of council. The three-month extension was up at the end of February, so council had to discuss how they were going to address the matter moving forward.
In a report to council, CAO Doug Robertson stated that the current committee structure, mandates roles and authorities, require clarification. New terms of reference are also needed to ensure the committees have a clear direction moving forward. Right now, the municipality has six committees that are required by legislation; the Emergency Management Committee, Property Standards Committee, Committee of Adjustment, Planning Advisory Committee, Police Services Board, and the Library Board. The five current non-legislated committees are the Industry, Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee, Environmental Advisory Committee, Recreation Advisory Committee, Agriculture Advisory Committee, and the Heritage Advisory Committee.
Council has directed staff to put out a call for volunteers for the Committee of Adjustment and the Property Standards Committee. They are also giving staff the task of drafting terms of reference for all the non-legislated committees, to ensure they have clear direction moving forward. The terms of reference will also determine the ability of the committees to spend taxpayer dollars to aid in their efforts. This was highlighted at the meeting, as several people who sat on the committees during the last term of council have asked for reimbursement for things they paid for out of pocket.
“I don’t contest these,” said Councillor Timothy Molloy about the requests. “The purpose of my comment is to look to the future and make sure there are rules and regulations as to how a committee might spend money that ultimately comes back on our shoulders to make room for in the budget.”
Mayor Doug Struthers agreed that it will be important to outline this for the future members of the advisory committees. “We will ensure that is in place moving forward,” he said.
A comment from the floor during the public question period served to remind council that there may also be a need to create new committees, to align with the municipality’s strategic plan. Mayor Struthers assured the gallery that council has the ability to be creative, to make sure they cover the items that they feel would be of value on which to have advice.
“Council will certainly be looking at that as we have the discussions on the specific mandate and the new terms of reference [for the committees],” he said. As soon as council has approved the non-legislated committees, and the terms of reference that staff will be preparing, a call for volunteers will go out on the website and in local publications.