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Jan 28, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Aiming to better engage Brantford's citizen committees

Brant News

J.P. Antonacci BRANT NEWS Brantford city councillors hope a new task force will find ways for the city's citizen boards and advisory committees to better communicate with council and each other. “We are more than likely missing out on a number of opportunities to have our boards working together and working more effectively with council and staff,” Mayor Chris Friel said. The mayor noted that recent years have seen a decrease in participation and qualified candidates for citizen committees. The task force, which will consist of Friel and any interested councillors, will look at the structure of committees and their reporting relationship with council. Coun. Richard Carpenter said it is “frustrating” that committees often end up duplicating work because members are unaware of what other committees are doing. Carpenter, who volunteered to sit on the task force, hopes councillors find a way to prevent committee recommendations from being “buried" in council meeting minutes. The task force would look at how to avoid the kind of disengagement felt by members of a citizen committee investigating ward boundary adjustment, council structure and remuneration. That committee lost two members due to a reduced mandate and the perception that city staff hijacked the process at council's direction. Councillors ended up approving the committee's revised five-ward model after a presentation by public affairs consultant Robert Williams during a special committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 19. The five-ward model – with new boundaries that equalize population while respecting natural features and existing neighbourhoods – was chosen after the case was made for adding a sixth ward or splitting the city into 10 wards each represented by a single councillor. Friel and Carpenter both told Brant News that council should have taken politics out of the ward boundary adjustment discussion by giving prior approval to whatever recommendation the committee brought forward.

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