Penticton city council has opted to reduce the amount of advisory committees and cut two key committees — heritage and crime and safety.
Instead, council voted 6-1 in favour of establishing four committees – two advisory and two short-term task forces.
There is now a new Agriculture Advisory Committee that will focus on Agriculture Land Commission applications for development as well as water issues. That committee will meet quarterly and serve for the duration of the council’s four yearfour-yearterm.
Council opted to keep the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee which will see volunteer members meet quarterly and serve for the duration of council’s four-year term.
There are now two task forces – Official Community Plan Housing and Accessibility – both will work on specific projects and be given timelines to complete their work.
The Housing task force will be focused on addressing housing needs and deliberate growth.
This task force will have 13 members and will meet monthly until December 2023.
The Accessibility Task Force will meet monthly until September to look at any barriers to accessibility and bring in public feedback to develop an accessibility plan.
Following the approval of the term of references for the committees, the call for volunteer members will go out, said the city.
During the meeting’s public question period, resident Burt Sandy asked why council would drop the crime and safety committee “considering the current outlook of the city and that current council members campaigned during the election on community safety being a priority?”
The advisory committee met monthly with business owners and housing managers. City staff, police, bylaw, fire and shelter operators would often provide information and updates during the meetings.
Coun. Campbell Watt, who was sitting as acting mayor at the Feb. 28 special meeting, said the issue of crime and safety is being folded into council duties.
“Ultimately, because this issue is so large, council has become the committee. We’ve decided to bring this into council amongst ourselves and keep it as our top priority,” said Watt.
“That is not very inclusive,” replied Sandy.
“It will be excessively inclusive. We will be reaching out to every stakeholder and making sure we are getting feedback from every corner of our community,” answered Watt.
Sandy closed out his questions by stating that he still believed council needed a committee.
Coun. James Miller voted against the proposed concept of reduced committees.
Miller said he was more than content with the former system and how it worked.
“Committees are excellent, for lack of a better way to say it, a training ground for people wanting to get involved in the community. This is limiting public involvement in terms of not having a heritage and museum committee,” Miller noted.
“I realize it was a burden on staff time. This will obviously be less burden for council not sitting on 3 or 4 committees but that is what we are elected for,” said Miller.
Coun. Isaac Gilbert said as someone who sat as the parks advisory committee chair, the biggest concern he had was that committee members couldn’t really bring things forward and see things through.
He believes the new format is encourage much more public involvement.
“This is more empowering structure for the community and for democracy,” Gilbert said.
“I’ve been coming to council meetings for 12 years and I’m having trouble understanding the new committees concept,” said council watchdog Lynn Kelsey.
When the terms of reference are approved, applications will be available on the city website and will be able to be submitted to email@example.com or dropped off to City Hall on or before March 24.
To report a typo, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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