Heritage and Museum committee no longer ad hoc

Penticton city council took four votes to restore standing committee status

Penticton city councilor Judy Sentes led the fight to have the Heritage and Museum committee restored to full advisory committee status. (Steve Kidd/Western News)

Penticton has a Heritage and Museum Committee once more, but it took four votes at city council to come to that decision.

As part of a purge of city advisory committees last May, Heritage and museum was reduced to ad hoc status, only being called together for specific tasks.

Related: City council slims committee structure

But in a letter brought to council’s Dec. 5 meeting by Coun. Judy Sentes, committee members asked to be reinstated as standing committee for the city, pointing out that a $20,000 grant from the B.C. Arts Council was partly dependent on the existence of the committee.

Begje Kozak, director of recreation and facilities, told council that city staff have confirmed with the BCAC that a formal council committee is not required to ensure continued access to grant funding.

“The requirement from the BCAC is to have an advisory body in place and the current ad hoc committee meets that need,” said Kozak.

“There is still an element of risk there, because an ad hoc committee does not have the same structure, nor does it have the opportunity of keeping minutes, which is a requirement to apply for that grant,” said Sentes, noting that when changes were made to the committee’s standing, members understood that if they didn’t feel it was working, they could come back and ask for reinstatement.

“That’s what they’re doing now. They don’t want to jeopardize they opportunity of a $20,000 grant to the museum and by reinstating the committee I think that risk is significantly lessened,” said Sentes.

The grant is a significant concern, but Sentes said the committee was also concerned with other work of the committee, including plans to work on historical site designation for properties such as Leir House.

“If we could get the national recognition of that as a heritage site, it would greatly enhance our opportunity for funding. We already know it’s a million-dollar project to replace the windows in that building,” said Sentes. “The committee is willing to take on that work, which would be a burden, in our opinion, to staff.”

Sentes’ motion to reinstate the committee, with the current membership failed to even draw a second. Andre Martin moved to continue the committee in it’s ad hoc status.

“Whether the committee is ad hoc or whatever, I can’t see whey somebody couldn’t take minutes to ensure this grant comes through,” said Martin. “It was being reviewed because we were concerned the committee had to be in place to get this B.C. Arts Council grant. The reality is we have to have some sort of committee, but it doesn’t have to be an official council committee. We went through this whole process earlier.”

Sentes took exception to Martin’s position, saying the grant was not assured, and work the committee normally advised on, like street naming, was backing up.

“Ad hoc is troublesome to the committee. I do believe that as we go forward, for this council and other councils, it would be truly a sad thing if this committee lost its designation and its relevance,” said Sentes.

Martin’s status quo motion failed in a 4-2 vote, with Coun. Tarik Sayeed absent, and Jakubeit, Sentes voting against, along with Couns. Campbell Watt and Max Picton.

The next motion, made by Watt, was for the committee to be restored, but for council to advertise for and appoint new committee members. That motion also failed, in a tie vote.

Jakubeit suggested a compromise solution, of restoring the committee to full status with the current members and leaving them responsible for their own administration. That solution was moved by Picton and finally got enough support to pass, with only Watt and Sentes opposed.

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