A bylaw which would regulate the City of Whitehorse’s advisory committees passed first reading at the Nov. 14 regular council meeting.
Now, each of the advisory committees has its own terms of reference, which are adopted by resolution of council. Citizens are appointed to the committees according to those guidelines.
The new bylaw would lay out how council can create these committees and would standardize the rules for how they form and operate. This includes membership criteria, how often people have to attend, how the committees report to council and how council, in turn, supports these committees.
“I’m really happy to see this bylaw coming forward,” said Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu.
Section 64.1 of the bylaw requires committee members to “be respectful of citizens, delegates at meetings, administration and each other, including being respectful of each other’s right to hold different and diverse views.”
Curteanu remarked that she felt this clause should also include respect for council.
Council received a lot of public comment on the bylaw, said Coun. Dan Boyd.
“It’s great to see a formalization (of this),” he said.
Coun. Betty Irwin wanted to know if committees already in place would be affected by the new bylaw.
Existing committees will continue to operate as they are, but their frames of reference, “will be reviewed in light of these standardized procedures,” said Norma Felker, assistant city clerk.
Keith Lay of Active Trails Whitehorse Association, said his organization was “very pleased” to see this bylaw come before council, because it addresses some of his group’s concerns. He spoke at the Nov. 6 standing committee meeting when the bylaw was first proposed.
“There’s an obvious effort to ensure transparency,” he said. “There’s recognition (in the bylaw) that city committees should encourage, through various means, the participation of the public.”
Mayor Dan Curtis said he wanted to remind council that all advisory committees are simply that — advisory — and that council should consider their recommendations and consult the public when making decisions.
“Council isn’t bound by any of the recommendations (the committees) make,” he said.
The bylaw will go for its second reading at the Nov. 28 regular council meeting.
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