County councillors want inequities on committees addressed – and soon

A notice of motion here that appeared to be a housekeeping matter turned into a list of complaints about inequality at county council.

Councillor Joanne Ross-Zuj’s Oct. 28 motion was for council to amend its procedural bylaw to establish a two-year term for council’s standing committees and chairmanships, thereby making them concurrent with the term of the warden.

The warden’s term was increased from one to two years a few years ago.

Ross-Zuj’s motion was seconded by councillor Don McKay.

Warden Chris White told council if the motion did not pass, councillors would continue with a one-year committee term and, “you can move around at any time.” He said anyone who wants a change of committee can simply email clerk Donna Bryce and request it.

White added council could also review all of its committees and consider such things as economic development or the green legacy as committees of council.

White said, “One thing I wrestle with is there aren’t enough committee seats for the number of councillors.”

Councillor Lou Maieron asked Ross-Zuj when her motion, if successful, would take effect. He wondered if it would “lock us in for one more year.”

White said it would do that, because the warden’s term ends in 2012.

Maieron asked because it would be unfair to force councillors to remain on a set committee for an extra year if they want a change.

McKay, who seconded the motion to get it on the floor, wondered if there is a problem and suggested, “if it’s not broke, why try to fix it.”

He said it appears to him the flexibility of a single year means change, and he has no problem with that. As chairman of the solid waste services committee, he said he would be pleased to run for that position again.

Committee chairmen are elected in open council annually, and councillors are asked for their preferred committees. The committee chairman then comprise a striking committee and the committees are set.

McKay said the county is planning a review of its structures and wondered if change could be done then.

Councillor Dennis Lever saw no problem with a two-year committee structure in line with the warden’s appointment.

He said if councillors want a regular rotation, council should consider a separate and formal way for them to move from one committee to another.

Maieron thinks the committee term “should follow the warden’s term.”

But, he said, because there are too few committee positions available, he cannot support that. He suggested next September council look at the “inequality” of council committees. He said some get two; others have only one.

He added there were eight new councillors after the 2010 municipal elections and the county