The City of Penticton has released the names of the people who will make up the OCP Task Force. Graphic courtesy City of Penticton

City council slims committee structure

The city is saying some of the current advisory committees should be suspended

As Penticton’s Official Community Plan review process gets up to speed, the city is saying some of the current advisory committees should be suspended.

In a staff report delivered to council May 23 by corporate officer Dana Schmidt and corporate services manager Stephanie Chambers, the suggestion was to park the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee and review it in 2018; turn the South Okanagan Event Centre Committee over to Spectra and make Heritage and Museum into an ad hoc committee for the Museum Manager and Recreation and Culture Manager.

The OCP Task Force is a large strategic project that will consume a significant amount of city resources over the next 16 to 18 months, according to the staff report.

“Both Climate Action and Heritage are featured significantly in the OCP,” reads the report. “The task force may look to call on these individuals as the OCP process unfolds, but running parallel processes will consume more staff resources than the city has available.”

Right now, Penticton has 10 advisory committees and five task forces. A review of the committee system showed Penticton is ahead of neighbouring and similar communities.

“Our closest neighbours have about half what we have,” said Schmidt. “In large part, Kelowna and some of the others are doing less by committee and more by components such as open houses, online engagement, etc.”

Coun. Judy Sentes was concerned by the prospect of parking committees.

“Sometimes in parking — which is what happened to the parks and rec committee, a number of years ago … it just disappeared,” said Sentes.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed has specific concerns about parking the sustainability committee and its work on climate action.

“If we do park it, it will be lost. The team will be lost,” said Sayeed.

Schmidt replied there is a significant focus in the OCP process on climate action, and there was no need to duplicated efforts

Sayeed suggest Sustainabily also be designated an ad hoc committee, so members could continue to work and provide information to the OCP task force.

Council voted 4-3 to delay decided on the future of the committee, with Couns. Campell Watt, Helena Konanz and Andre Martin opposed. They were unanimous about turning the SOEC committee over to Spectra Management.

“Really, they are just bouncing concert opportunities and the budget,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “What is changing is we don’t have staff coming there to take notes.”

“It is becoming so informal now that I am wondering if we need to look at it differently,” said Konanaz. “I think Spectra can bring in people for advice, but what does that have to do with me as a councillor?”

Sentes pointed out the SOEC committee was formed for a specific reason, to help the SOEC management make better decisions when it was struggling through its early years.

“I think that committee has done a good job. I would hate to see the gains that have been made become compromised,” said Sentes. “There was a reason that committee was put in place It is successful now, but I want to ensure the process keeps moving forward.”

Council voted unanimously to turn the committee over to Spectra.