Rules won’t allow Kitras to sit on subcommittee for initiative he introduced

ELORA – It appears Centre Wellington councillor Stephen Kitras won’t be able to sit on a subcommittee tasked with shaping and implementing the neighbourhood hospitality and wellness initiative he originally proposed.

Kitras learned at the May 5 Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAC) meeting that only committee members can sit on subcommittees  – and since he’s not on the committee, he can’t participate.

Clerk Kerri O’Kane confirmed at the meeting that according to the rules and parameters of advisory committees, this is the rule.

“Councillor Kitras is here at the invitation of the committee and no, it would not be appropriate for him to join the subcommittee of a committee of which he is not a member,” O’Kane said.

Kitras responded, “I presented the motion and I understood this would be allowed, so this comes as a new ruling to me.

“It’s fine if you don’t want me to be any part of this. I can see there are some problems with that. So, you can do whatever you want with this.”

Kitras originally brought a motion to Centre Wellington council in January seeking to form a Community Wellbeing and Neighbourhood Hospitality Task force that would explore ways to encourage and facilitate building neighbourhood networks and social interaction once the pandemic is over.

He said he believes people are feeling isolated and will want to mix with their neighbours once the pandemic ends. In addition, new people to Centre Wellington might also have a hard time getting to know the community, he explained.

Kitras envisions a time when street or neighbourhood events could spring up spontaneously – anything from street parties and garage sales to carnivals for children in a neighbourhood and more.

His vision is to create a manual of sorts that steers people to permits and other permissions and opens the door to these neighbourhood-led events.

Council supported the idea in principle and asked Kitras to coordinate with staff to iron out more details. On March 29, he and communications officer Kendra Martin presented their concepts.

Kitras said he wanted to form task force comprised of one councillor, six community members – one from each ward, including a rural representative – and Martin.

He expected the task force to meet weekly for about three months – long enough to finalize a document, present it to CSAC, and then to council.

Kitras also stated he would like to sit on the task force.

Martin’s vision was a little different. She worked on the Love Your Hood neighbourhood project in Kitchener before coming to Centre Wellington and had lots of background research to share.

She proposed the township provide small grants to help fund these events and to begin with a pilot project featuring just three neighbourhood projects, each with $1,000 from the township.

CSAC supported the concepts but members were unclear on what they were being asked to do.

And while they understood there was an urgency to getting the project going if it indeed gets the go-ahead from council, committee members wanted some time to think about it and for staff to bring more information before agreeing to form a subcommittee.

So CSAC voted to defer the matter until its next meeting in June.

Staff is expected to return with information, particularly about the difference between a subcommittee and a task force and how to reach community members if that’s the direction they decide to take.