As each council member sits around the council table, it is just as easy to see us as individuals, as we are whole. Yes, we represent our constituents, our wards – but I think it is fair to say we also represent this city, its values and its needs as we continue to grow and prosper.
That is why, when it comes to governance, it is imperative that what occurs around the council table is fair and balanced.
I use the word balanced, as currently, there is a lot of concern with myself and my urban colleagues that there is an unfair balance on certain committees that wield a lot of decision making for our city.
On Feb. 21, our Finance and Economic Development Committee nominated five council members to fill in vacancies left by Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney.
The process of nominating these individuals was and is flawed. The issue is with the current governance procedure does not ensure committee members decide on their chair as it relates to the filling of unplanned chair vacancies.
It is of the opinion that in the instance where a Chair of a committee steps down, to maintain quorum under the current committee structure that the vice-chair would automatically take on the responsibilitie permanently.
In this case, members who had long-standing positions on these committees were dismissed for a new chair who has no previous experience on the specifics of these committees.
This is not okay.
Furthermore, it is of opinion, to ensure Council committee continuity, my urban colleagues and I recommend only current members of a committee could apply for the role of chair. In the instance, if there is a need for additional new members to maintain quorum, they would join as committee members and not take on chairing responsibilities.
This issue of governance is one I intend to not let fall to the wayside.
As urban Councillors, we have been forgotten at the leadership table.
Despite urban councillors objections, on Feb. 26 City Council carried the motions to appoint:
Innes Ward Councillor Laura Dudas as the Vice Chair of the Finance and Economic Development Committee
Stittsville Ward Councillor Glen Gower as a member-at-large of the Finance and Economic Development Committee and the Vice Chair of the Planning Committee
Orléans Ward Councillor Matthew Luloff is recommended as the Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board
Osgoode Ward Councillor George Darouze as a member of the Shaw Centre Board of Directors
Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward Councillor Rawlson King as the Chair of the Built Heritage Sub-Committee (although Rawlson was not selected to sit on Planning Committee, all BHSC reports go to PC)
As an example of a lost opportunity of proper representation, I put my name forward to sit on the Shaw Centre of Board of Directors, to replace Coun. Sudds. Being granted this position would not have been new to me – I had previously sat on this Board. As both a local representative, with city-wide initiatives, I felt the local councillor best serves this position. I could speak to the local issues, the local updates as well as be a city-wide voice for the organization.
All this to say, my colleague, who will now sit on this Board, will not do an excellent job, its just another missed opportunity for local, urban representation.
And this missed opportunity speaks to a more significant problem.
What once was a question of why has now become a question of why not?
Why not allow urban councillors to have a voice at these relevant committees?
Why not allow a council that is fair and balanced?
A city needs all its representatives – regardless of allegiances- to work together to achieve great things. Continuing to create a divide between urban concerns and suburban and rural concerns is for lack of a better word, silly – we are all residents of this city.
The only thing missing now is the voices of a vast majority of those residents at the tables, which matter.