Changes coming to council meetings

Mayor Hawes brings back standing committees

Mission’s new mayor is reinstating standing committees, giving each councillor a portfolio to look after.

The appointments were announced at the inauguration ceremony earlier this week, and reiterated at the first council meeting for the newly elected group Monday night.

The six portfolios and their chairs are Corporate Services, Coun. Carol Hamilton; Development Services, Coun. Pam Alexis; Engineering and Public Works, Coun. Danny Plecas; Forestry, Coun. Jenny Stevens; Parks, Recreation and Culture, Coun. Rhett Nicholson for Parks and Recreation and Alexis for Culture; and Public Safety and Health, Coun. Jim Hinds.

Each councillor will be handed the gavel to chair a portion of the committee of the whole meeting when items related to their departments are up for discussion.

In February, former mayor Ted Adlem ended the portfolio assignments for councillors to encourage council members to take an interest in all issues, not just the assignments they are responsible for.

“When you are responsible for everything, you’re responsible for nothing,” Mayor Randy Hawes told The Record. “I don’t think it was working well.”

According to Hawes, councillors have been assigned portfolios for decades and this past year was the only time they have been removed from those assignments.

Stevens, who is the only returning councillor, said she is “very pleased to see them back because it gives all councillors the experience of chairing a meeting, which is important.”

The assignments also lead to more active participation and provide links between councillors and departments, Stevens added. “It leads to good interdepartmental relationships and respect.”

Hawes is also looking into adjusting meeting times for committee of the whole and regular council meetings.

Currently, both meetings take place on the first and third Mondays of the month beginning at 6 p.m., and Wednesday afternoons, if necessary.

Hawes is proposing to start committee of the whole meetings Monday afternoon and hold regular council meetings on the same evening, eliminating the Wednesday gathering.

This would save staff time and reduce overtime costs for the district.

It’s hard for younger councillors who still work to set aside two days of the week for council meetings, said Hawes.

“The whole idea is to attract councillors, because they’re not all retired people.”

The changes have not been finalized by council, but Hawes hopes they will be implemented early in the new year.