Advice needed from experts : Public given say at hearings
I admit to an ingrained skepticism about committees, particularly Delta’s citizens’ advisory committees … but not all of them.
Delta says advisory committees are “established to assist (Delta) council and provide opportunities for public involvement in municipal matters.”
Why? Don’t we pay Delta’s taxes in reasonable expectation that councillors and staff are capable of conducting our municipality’s business?
Why must Delta provide “opportunities for public involvement?” Public hearings are mandated and intended for that exact purpose.
If advisory committee members are qualified only by civic interest and a wish to offer “free” advice, then Delta is wasting money. Free advice can be very costly and has at times proven worthless as evidenced by its rejection in subsequent public hearings.
The recent CUPE contract stipulates that Delta’s inside employees work “seven (7) consecutive hours per day, eight-thirty (8: 30) A.M. to four-thirty (4: 30) P.M. with one (1) hour off for lunch Monday through Friday.” “Compensation for overtime worked … shall be provided when an inside employee is required to work in excess of seven (7) hours in the regular work day.” Advisory committee meetings are typically at 7 p.m. on weekdays. For meetings starting then or Saturday staff must be paid additional hours at twice their hourly rate.
Imagine what staff overtime cost us for two years of Tsawwassen Area Plan Committee meetings! Then add the time of hundreds of residents who attended their many public information meetings. It was a high price to pay for “public involvement in municipal matters;” matters that arguably ended in failure.
The committee was unneeded, as evidenced by approval of the area plan that staff finally drafted without it. The efforts of well-intentioned volunteers resulted in waste and delay.
Now seven committees with 53 well-meaning volunteers and 13 staff are assigned to review and comment on Century Group’s new OCP and zoning requests! Why?
Couldn’t two or three staff members perform this review in a few days or a week, and do so on regular time?
Delta has 17 advisory committees. One is required by statute.
Others are restricted to volunteers with professional qualifications staff lacks and needs. I applaud and thank them.
But just think of the money we’d save if Delta cancelled the rest and assigned staff to do the work we pay them for ! Councillors assigned to chair the committees could also avoid many needless evening and weekend meetings.
Delta should rely on public hearings to learn community wishes.
They are required and that is their sole purpose. If they need community input on matters more urgent or not subject to a hearing, they can learn it quickly, precisely and economically with well-designed polling.
If they need expertise they lack, they can either retain a consultant or establish a committee of members with the needed expertise.
With these few exceptions, councillors and staff, not volunteers, should perform the municipality’s work.
It’s time to review Delta’s 17 advisory committees.
Retain those that provide critically needed assistance. Thank and disbanded the remainder whose purpose is “public involvement.”