This week City Council met and went through the City Council Governance Report.
The Governance Report is a 201-page document outlining how we organize our decision-making through committees, commissions and subcommittees.
STANDING COMMITTEES, SUB-COMMITTEE AND TRANSIT COMMISSION
Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
Community Services Committee
Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services Committee
Environment and Climate Change Committee
Finance and Corporate Services Committee
Planning and Housing Committee
Built Heritage Committee
Here are the major changes to committees: The former Community and Protective Services Committee will be split in half and will be Community Services Committee and Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services Committee. I am hoping this will give both committees a chance to dive deeper into their mandates. Community Services will include social services and parks and recreation which we want to keep strong in this city. I see the need for the Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services (EPPS) committee given all of the extreme weather we have seen, including the derecho, a tornado and floods. With climate change we need to be better prepared for these situations. Bylaw and Protective Services would also report to the EPPS committee.
The Planning Committee will become the Planning and Housing Committee. This will help put an emphasis on our city’s commitment to affordable housing. This committee will have to digest all the impacts of the recent provincial legislation, Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act. We already know that municipalities will be losing significant revenue source of development charges but there could be other impacts as well as we move forward with intensification in urban areas, which this bill encourages, as well new growth in outlying areas which means more expenses for cities to create new infrastructure such as roads and transit and parks. This committee will be kept very busy as we continue to follow our New Official Plan that was recently amended by the province to include more sprawl growth on previously protected farmland. The basic principles of building and preserving livable walkable 15-minute neighbourhoods communities is still there, and we need to keep this as a focus including to ensure there are green spaces and a robust tree canopy throughout the city.
The Transit Commission will now be comprised of elected officials (city councillors) and there will be a newly established Transit Advisory Committee comprised of a cross section of public ridership including a Para-Transpo user. I had a motion pass that stated that the membership of the Transit Advisory Committee be 50% plus 1of women, non-binary, transgender, and gender non-conforming persons. This will help ensure we have the voice of those who use the system and stated concerns on safety and security issues. We should also consider having a senior and a student representative as well.
In the past couple of terms of city council Deputy Mayors were fixed appointments for the entire four-year term. The Governance Report recommends that the Deputy Mayors position will be filled on rotation by all councillors. This was the practice prior to 2010 and gives all councillors an opportunity to fulfill this role for a few months. I support this change.
Council Liaison Positions
The Governance Report outlines four Council Liaison positions to be filled by city councillors.
Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives
Council Liaison for Veteran and Military Issues
Council Liaison for Women and Gender Equity
Council Liaison for the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation Civic Cultural Protocol and Implementation Plan
In the last term of council it was my privilege to have been the first Council Liaison on Women and Gender Equity. This was an exciting role to be part of the city’s first Women and Gender Equity Strategy to guide us in our own internal operations of examining as well as how we conduct city services through a gender lens including our New Official Plan. I am quite willing to continue in this role. At this time, I will need to look at what responsibilities I will be given for committees and other city agencies to make that decision.
I have been given the responsibility of being on the Nominating Committee that will sorting out on which councillors sit on which committees. I believe that all the committees hold a great deal of value. In the past term I made a point of attending the majority of committee meetings to listen to the agenda items and ask questions even if I was not a member of a committee. There are so many aspects of the city’s programs and services to learn at each committee and many important directions and decisions the city will need to take as we continue to adjust and grow.
Accountability and Transparency
The recently tabled Ottawa Light Rail Transit Public Inquiry Commission Report into the Stage 1 LRT project is a strong reminder of the importance of keeping councillors and the public informed on the state of the transit system, including the not so positive news. Mayor Sutcliffe put forward a motion to establish a sub-committee of council to provide oversight over non-operational matters of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 LRT lines including the Trillium Line. This is a positive step, but I hope that city council thinks beyond the transit system and takes a good hard look at the pitfalls of public private partnerships and how we handle all major infrastructure projects going forward.
This is just a quick overview of a lengthy Governance Report. Next week City Council will be taking on the budget direction. Mayor Sutcliffe has already indicated that he plans to place a tax cap of 2.5% and will include several promises he made during the election such as transit fare freeze and a reduction in recreational fees by 10%. This will be an ambitious task and although I support these directions, I will be checking to ensure other valuable programming and services for our community will not be affected. Stay tuned for next week.