Committee of the Whole streamlines the process for running the district

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys - Committee of the Whole

Summer is more than half over, and through all the heat and water problems our parks staff have tried hard to make sure the Fadear Park walking oval, the various planters around town and all the other aspects of the parks are kept as tidy and green as possible.

We have had a team of students on staff this year to help in the parks. In addition to regular park tasks, they have been helping out with some extra duties like the setup for the Interior Savings movie in the park event. What a great success that was!

Also, with their help the picnic tables that have been in poor repair are being revamped and will be put into service in the various parks.

There is always something to do to improve our green areas, ball parks, bandshell and other public leisure service areas and equipment.

While the staff are diligent in checking things on a regular basis, should any of you notice something that needs attention please contact the district office so that the problem can be rectified as soon as possible. Suggestions around how to improve service are always welcome as well.

Recently there has been much talk around the fires that happened 10 years ago. Some of the issues identified during that time are still being worked on. Communication, or more accurately the non-communication during the emergency was a major issue.

The communication systems between the Forest Service and the local fire departments and other emergency service departments, had to be created on the fly.

The work on perfecting that is still ongoing. This is a good thing.

Information to the public during the emergency was not given because there was no clear direction as to who would be formulating the data and giving that information out. Misinformation is worse than no information, and unfortunately there was a good measure of that being spread around the coffee shop rumour mill.

Going forward, protocols are being established that will allow all orders of government to be informed, the chain of command properly laid out and communicated to everyone,  as well as a system of releasing accurate and timely information to the various stakeholders and the general public.

This is crucial to keep general order and to reduce the anxiety for those residents directly involved in evacuation orders and the like.

The people doing this work have been working hard,  but progress is always exceedingly slow with these issues, as most changes require consensus between all the various parties involved. That is an ongoing task that requires many hours of negotiations and many revamps of plans.

On the topic of revamping things, awhile ago the district committee structure was changed from individual committees to a Committee of the Whole (COW) concept. This was done to try and gain some efficiency around staff time, councillor’s time, and having meeting agendas that were full and worthwhile.

It is important that staff receive proper and clear direction on issues. The discussions around these directions to staff are held at committee in a less formal setting.

The resulting recommendations are then forwarded to council at regular council meetings.

The problem can be that some committees are not that active, so the committee meetings become few and far between, or in some cases nonexistent. Staff then does not have the benefit of direction from council.

This is not a good scenario.

The COW meeting takes care of this problem because even singular topics can be quickly discussed. Also, all of council will have input, not just the councillors assigned to that particular committee.

What was missed in the transition away from the regular committees to the COW was the naming of the councillors that would be the prime for each function. In the regular committee system these would be called the chairperson of that committee.

These assignments will be announced in early September.

I had mentioned earlier that there would be a public meeting with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure around the Highway 5 speed zone changes.

This meeting is on Wednesday August 28, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Ridge. Anyone with concerns and input to give is asked to attend.