Monday, February 26, 2024

Council Approves Restructuring of Advisory Committees

After making some amendments to the recommendations provided to council in a report from staff provided to council during their November 27 meeting, Meaford’s Council has given initial approval to the restructuring of council advisory committees.

Council voted in favour of the establishment of four new advisory committees based on the four pillars of council’s priorities, namely Ensuring Sustainability, Growing Our Economy, Investing in Infrastructure, and Strengthening Our Community. In addition to the four pillar-based committees, Council will also continue to receive advice from the accessibility (as required by provincial AODA legislation) and heritage advisory committees, a site plan review sub-committee, along with the Ontario Pumped Storage Community Committee previously approved by Council.

Staff believe that establishing these committees would bring benefits around the diversity of committee members, broadening the subjects covered by advisory committees without requiring additional resources, and increasing the focus on Council’s priorities,” staff advised in their report, which was debated by Council for approximately one hour before voting to approve the agenda item as amended by Council during their discussion.

Though staff had recommended the dissolution of the heritage advisory committee in favour of establishing a new Heritage Conservation District advisory committee which would have focused strictly on heritage permits, Council amended the motion in order to retain the existing heritage advisory committee.

The restructuring will see the dissolution of some existing advisory committees, including the economic development committee, which will now fall under the Growing our Economy advisory committee, and the community well-being committee will now fall under the Strengthening our Community advisory committee. Council also approved an amendment that will allow for two members of council to sit on each advisory committee, and another amendment approved by council will offer existing members of economic development, accessibility, and heritage committees the opportunity to stay on for another term if they choose.

In addition to their vote to approve the updated council advisory committee structure including amendments approved during Monday’s meeting, Council also gave direction to staff to begin the recruitment process to find members for the new advisory committees.

While staff appreciate that committee members and Council can at times become frustrated about the formality of committees of Council, they continue to believe that a clear mandate, open meetings, and transparency are crucial elements of the committee process,” municipal staff noted in their report to council. “Staff believe that the ongoing committees based on the pillars of the Council Priorities should be based on a similar model to previous advisory committees, with members appointed through a public appointment process, public meetings including agendas and minutes developed by staff and the member of Council chairing the committee, and clearly defined responsibilities for the committee.”

The four new committees along with the other retained advisory committees will continue to meet bi-monthly on Wednesdays in the council chamber.

Unless Council directs otherwise, staff will continue to schedule formal advisory committees on a bi-monthly basis, with meetings starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. A consistent 2 p.m. start time will allow for committee members and the public to use the Meaford Moves+ transit system to attend committees if required,” staff advised in their report. “Meetings will remain at the Council Chambers, in order to allow for live-streaming of the meetings. The Accessibility Advisory Committee may need to be an exception to this depending on the membership, with meetings potentially taking place at a more downtown location.”

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