- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Back to the pulling teeth analogy (credit to Richard Thomas, who used it to describe getting people to participate on City of Owen Sound committees.)

Six committees will have vacancies in February; currently you are represented on those by 33 public members – 10 women and 23 men, and elected members of council, currently 7 men and 2 women – all with varying skill sets and experiences. Anywhere from three to 10 City staff will also attend each of these meetings.

The deadline for applications for six City committees is this Friday, November 26.

The process after that is a closed council meeting to discuss and recommend applicants. The current council gets a lot of control about committee membership for the first half of the next council's term. Let's make sure they have a strong field of applicants to choose among.

The full mandates of the committees are on the City's website, but here is the short and unofficial version:

The three standing committees are an amalgamation of several former committees in 2017-18 to reduce staff time commitment. (One day I'll write about the committees we used to have. And the committees other municipalities have.)

The Community Services Committee provides “a forum for the exchange of ideas” about planning, parks and recreation facilities, the harbour, the cemetery and other areas. Their key reference documents are a whole raft of Master Plans, including the overarching and powerful Official Plan for land use in the City.

The Corporate Services Committee deals with taxes, fees, IT, the Fire Department and the Clerks office (elections, by-laws, etc)

The Operations Committee talks about public works of all kinds - parking, bridges, winter maintenance, water and sewage, waste in all its forms!

Then there are three advisory committees:

The Accessibility Advisory Committee is a statutory committee to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They  look at plans and plans for plans from the perspective of those whose access to public places and services could be limited.

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery Advisory Committee was newly formed after the decision not to proceed with making the gallery into an entity independent of the City of Owen Sound. It provides “public oversight of the Gallery operations” and feedback from the community to council,  and members act as “ambassadors for the gallery” to the public.

The Community Development, Tourism and Culture Advisory Committee meets the least frequently but covers a lot of territory. Its key documents include the Cultural Master Plan, the Harbour and Downtown Urban Design/ Master Plan Strategy, and Economic Development and Tourism Plan – all of which are worth a look, even if you aren't applying for this committee.

Members of these committees are being encouraged to re-apply for another term, and some of them definitely should.  But from my obeservaton, fresh perspectives and fresh voices in our decision-making process, especially with so few at the table to begin with, would be welcome.




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