Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Next up on the budget review

My bet is the majority of the citizen committees will be maintained. The report in today's SP (July 20/11) offers minimal savings to disband them and generally speaking, the people who serve on these committees are squeaky wheels. They are people who have applied to serve because they have a special interest in a particular area and come with their own agenda. The biggest problem with these committees is, although they are advisory in nature, they tend to over react if council does not take the advice. Nor are they concerned about the cost related to heeding the advice.

Council on the other hand does not want to appear to be inconsiderate of the views of the public but struggles with the committees when it over rides the advice.

Such was the case with the Heritage Committee when council dealt with the Gathercole Building. Then again, this group introduced the Doors Open program to the city which seems to have met with success. And the city does need a watch group to protect our viable heritage.

The Environmental Committee brought us a no weed control program.

On the other hand, the Cultural Diversity and Race Relations committee sheds light on some of the issues faced by new residents from other countries and the difficulties they face in adjusting to life in our city. They also identify First Nations issues.

The Accessibility Committee sheds light on issues relating to people with disabilities and their difficulties living in the city.

Visual Arts advises what art should be purchased and determines where is should be placed. They have done a reasonably good job.

And I haven't a clue what Animal Control and Traffic Safety does these days.

I dare say many on council would like to disband these committees, but they won't.

Next on the agenda please.


  1. I'm biased on this topic (being a committee chair and all), but far from being "squeaky wheels" these committees tend to provide reports and suggestions to City Admin and City Council that push the evelope or are outside the box that Admin and Council operate within.

    Of course, this often puts decision makers outside of their comfort level, which is why I'd agree that some Councillors (and who ever wrote the very negative report for the review!) would love to axe these committees.

    Of course, that's not to say that all the suggestions arising from these committees are viable either economically or administratively, but, overall, I think they serve a useful purpose of providing an outside voice to both Admin and Council.

  2. which committee do you chari Sean?

  3. Environmental Advisory Committee

  4. Enough said Sean S.

    I see two problems with these committees. First they have no teeth which is a good thing and second they are not speaking for the public at large. As the Mistress indicated most are full of people that have their own agenda in mind. Blind to the costs to the public and not democratically supported. If these committees where elected positions I could see their value. but they aren't and wont be.

    However $79,000 is pittance and I'm sure more than that is wasted every day moving hundreds of civic employees and equipment around the city. As was expressed by some media types the administration is never interested in taking something away from themselves but something that the public will feel the pinch.

    We will need to see major restructuring of all departments to weed out the excess and frivolous spending at city hall but this isn't the council that will be willing to do it.

  5. In my experience with these committees they do generally have an agenda. The majority of the reports are simply finding evidence to support your opinion.

    To take a flyer from the recycling debate, those on such a committee would usually seek studies that support a single box system as opposed to comingled. Studies which support opposing viewpoints receive little attention.

    As the Mistress noted the committees have agendas which greatly show through in their reports to council. It is tough to find unbiased committee members.

  6. With due respect Anon 214 and 242, your comments suggest you don't have a good understanding of how the city committees work.

    Of course everyone has biases, that's why each committee is dedicated to one area of city policy. The purpose of the committees is to have knowledgeable citizen input into city policy.

    However, on a committee of 10 people you still have to find a consensus. Committees discuss policy and education, they don't make budget decisions and can only offer reccomendations.

    In my experience the cost of proposals are discussed and acknowledged. However, the ultimate decision to go ahead with any reccomendation from any committee lies first with either the P&O or A&F committees and then with City Council. They either support an idea or they don't. It's then up to City Admin to work out the costs and develop the final policy for Council approval.

  7. Civic committees are a waste of time and money,they simply justify council and admin saying they cosulted with the public it's a joke really. Get rid of them, not to save money, but because they are not useful.


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