The mayor will be the only chair at the district’s committee of the whole meetings, starting Monday.
The change, which was recommended in Mission’s 2012 Core Services Review, was made by Mayor Ted Adlem and announced earlier this week. However, not all councillors were pleased with the adjustment.
In the past, each councillor is assigned one of six portfolios and handed the gavel when items related to their departments are up for discussion. The six committees are: corporate services; development services; engineering and public works; forestry; parks, recreation and culture; and public safety and health.
Coun. Jenny Stevens said she was “a bit stunned” to hear about the change to the chair, noting council rejected that suggestion more than a year and a half ago after some debate.
She said that decision was made because having a portfolio assigned to a councillor is less pressure for department heads, who only had to deal with one councillor.
Councillors typically review reports from their department in detail and can help answer questions when they chair that portion of the meeting, Stevens said.
“Without a portfolio, directors may get seven of us (asking questions).”
Last month, Stevens had suggested shuffling the portfolios, but said she never intended to have them abolished. She plans to have the issue discussed at the next meeting on Feb. 17.
The portfolios were mayoral assignments, said Adlem, who maintained most municipalities operate with one chair throughout the meeting, and the change would encourage councillors to familiarize themselves with every department, not just the one they are assigned.
Legislation does not require council members to be assigned a departmental portfolio as chairs or liaisons, and best governance principles do not promote this practice, according to a press release from the district.
Coun. Larry Nundal also believes the change is positive.
“It broadens everybody’s perspective, so we don’t focus on one area.”