Delta council is doing away with most of its committees, commissions and task forces in a move aimed at streamlining the decision-making process and improving transparency, according to staff report voted on last week (Dec. 12).
Pending final bylaw approval in the new year, all committees of council — save for the Delta Council/Delta Board of Education Liaison Committee, Board of Variance (which is required under the Local Government Act) and Mobility and Accessibility Committee (which will be required under the act as of Sept. 1, 2023) — will be “concluded.”
A “Committee of the Whole” comprised of all members of council will replace the majority of the current committees, which typically only include two members of council and submit reports to keep the rest of council up to date on the issues being discussed.
“Committee of the Whole allows council members to meet with more members of the community and broaden the level of engagement on important topics,” the report states, noting the move is “consistent with practices in other cities,” though it does not provide any examples.
“The structure gives all council members the chance to be involved in issues from an early stage and be better prepared for decision-making when the issue reaches the council table.”
The report does not say when or how often the Committee of the Whole will meet, and a schedule of council meetings for the first quarter of 2023 posted to the city’s website does not list any committee meetings at all.
Previous Committees of Whole usually took place at the start of regular council meetings to allow delegations to make presentations to council.
In late November, council held a separate Committee of the Whole meeting to receive delegations presenting previews of three large-scale development projects before the applicants formally submit applications to the city, allowing council to provide early feedback on the proposals while they are still in the early stages.
City manager Sean McGill noted at the time that the meeting was a new format and that staff appreciated getting feedback from council early on in the application process.
Three new committees will be created in the new year: the Community Investment Committee, the Agricultural and Hunting Regulation Advisory Committee, and the Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Committee.
The Community Investment Committee, made up of three members of council and the city’s director of economic development, will meet twice a year and work to grow investment and economic development in the City of Delta. The committee takes the place of the Mayor’s Community Investment Standing Committee, which met six times a year and was comprised of Mayor George Harvie, two councillors and three community members.
The Agricultural and Hunting Regulation Advisory Committee will, as the name suggests, provide advice to council on matters pertaining to agriculture and hunting. The new committee will be comprised of two members of council as chair and vice-chair and a minimum of six members from the community — fewer than each of the two committees it is replacing — and will meet twice a year — the same as both previous committees.
The Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Committee will meet twice per year to advise council on actions and initiatives to support diversity and inclusion and combat racism and discrimination at the City of Delta and in the community. Two members of council will sit as chair and vice-chair, joined by a minimum of six members from the community. It replaces a mayor’s task force that met six times a year and had a membership of more than a dozen people.
In lieu of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission, six bi-annual summits will be held to allow sports and culture groups an “enhanced opportunity to engage directly with council,” the report states.
Mayor and council will host separate “City of Delta Sports and Culture Councils” twice annually for indoor and outdoor sport user groups as well as culture stakeholders, giving them a “direct line to council,” including those councillors designated to “champion” indoor and outdoor sports communities (Rod Binder and Jessie Dosanjh, respectively) and culture groups (Alicia Guichon).
“It is envisioned that these new engagement opportunities will allow council to hear directly from stakeholders, providing the opportunity for more immediate response by council and timely direction to staff,” the report states. “This enhanced engagement will also provide the opportunity for specific user groups and other stakeholders to have a direct level of engagement on large-scale projects such as the Winskill Aquatic and Fitness Centre project.”
In addition to Binder, Dosanjh and Guichon’s sport and culture roles, the report also lists liaison positions for the rest of council for the coming year:
• Mayor George Harvie: Tsawwassen First Nation, Musqueam Indian Band, Delta Farmers’ Institute
• Coun. Rod Binder: Boys & Girls Club, Deltassist, Delta Child and Youth Committee, North Delta Business Association
• Coun. Daniel Boisvert: Delta Council/Delta Board of Education Liaison Committee
• Coun. Alicia Guichon: Delta Heritage Airpark Management Committee
• Coun. Jennifer Johal: Delta Chamber of Commerce, Kirkland House Foundation
• Coun. Dylan Kruger: Delta Heritage Society, Ladner Business Association, Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association, Reach Child & Youth Development Society