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Council still talking of axing committees


While town council did discuss the possibility of getting rid of its various executive committees on Monday night, any decision on the matter will have to wait for a future meeting.

A report from CAO Mark McCaig noted the current committee structure dates back to 1993, when the town commissioned a study be done to investigate options to make the corporation more efficient and effective.

One of the areas of focus was to create a new organizational structure.

“The previous structure was deemed to be too confusing and, at times, ‘overlapping’ in nature,” said McCaig.

“The town moved to the current structure, which placed an emphasis on clear departmental lines with subsidiary advisory entities,” he added. “The purpose was to place the focus on specific areas of functionality to facilitate effective recommendations from council.”

Recently, however, it was proposed that council eliminate the current executive committee structure and move towards a format where all of council would discuss issues in the committee of the whole on alternate weeks from regular council.

McCaig noted Clerk Glenn Treftlin contacted other municipalities in the region and found some did not have standing committees of council. But all did have bodies similar to the executive committees, including working groups and committees of one with an alternate.

McCaig added that from a staff point of view, the system should stay as it is.

“When this proposal was discussed at the managerial level, it was the consensus among all managers that the executive committee structure was working well,” he said.

“The managers appreciated the working relationship they had developed with their respective committees, and especially appreciated the opportunity to seek input on various matters from the members in an informal setting,” he added.

“Staff feel this opportunity will be lost or significantly diminished in the larger, formalized committee of the whole structure.”

McCaig said the “functional focus” of executive meetings also saves time compared to discussion with council as a whole, and staff feel that consensus on specific issues will be difficult to attain.

As it stands now, he added, all councillors are welcome to attend all executive committee meetings to provide input or get information.

“The whole focus of this is to get more information out to the councillors and to make it more of a public process,” noted Mayor Dan Onichuk, referring to the possible elimination of the executive committees.

But Coun. Struchan Gilson said he also would like the executive committees to remain status quo.

“From a councillor point-of-view, I feel the amount of information we have to absorb is absolutely phenomenal,” he remarked. “I have particular interests in certain areas but quite frankly, some of what we do I’m not that interested in.

“I prefer to take the advice of experts in certain areas,” added Coun. Gilson. “Therefore, for me to sit through a great big finance meeting in committee of the whole would bore me to tears.”

He noted if he does have questions about a particular subject being dealt with by a committee he’s not on, he’ll either sit in at that executive committee meeting or ask someone who’s on the committee.

“With the structure you’re proposing, I don’t have a choice,” Coun. Gilson said to Mayor Onichuk. “I feel right now, I can be an effective councillor the way it is set up.”

Mayor Onichuk clarified the idea to eliminate executive committees was, in fact, that of Coun. Roy Avis, and that he only brought it forward for discussion.

But further discussion on the issue was tabled to a future meeting due to the busy agenda at Monday night’s meeting.

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