Citizen committee to lead governance review

Saanich mayor opposes decision, saying community associations representatives should be included on committee

Saanich council moved forward to create a 13-person Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee on Monday night.

The plan for the new committee was drawn up in a report by CitySpaces Consulting. Council voted 8-1 in favour of the report’s five recommendations while adding a few amendments, such as adding two members from the Saanich Community Associations Network.

Mayor Richard Atwell was disappointed that the governance review report showed up on the agenda following his regular pre-council meeting with staff the Thursday previous.

The mayor was the only one to vote against it, believing that a standing committee of himself, Coun. Colin Plant and Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, was to have a greater role in the process.

“[Monday’s] public input showed it is [especially] helpful when things are put on the agenda at the last minute,” Atwell said, referring to the residents who spoke their opinions prior to the agenda item.

Coun. Vic Derman, expressed a need for diversity that goes beyond local community associations.

“It needs to be a broad [reaching] selection to prevent a situation where five or six members could set their own agenda,” Derman said.

The goal is to have anonymous applications for the Governance Review Committee positions. Staff will receive the applications and black out the names on the résumés.

The committee members will be selected by a 10-person focus group made up of members on Saanich advisory committees, as per the consultant recommendation.

The governance review committee will spend a year meeting with residents, Saanich-based stakeholder groups, Saanich committees, Saanich staff, CRD and other municipalities.

“It is trying to have people with unbiased skill sets, and for me it’ll be an onerous task if you think abut the various areas that they will get into,” said Coun. Judy Brownoff.

Saanich will soon post advertisements for the committee positions.

During the 2014 municipal election some Greater Victoria communities included a question on the ballot regarding support for amalgamation.  Saanich voted 88 per cent in favour of this question: Do you support council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the region?

Coun. Susan Brice said she’s surprised how the phrase ‘governance review’ has caught on over the past 10 months.

“When we first put governance review on the ballot it was snickered at as a way to get around amalgamation, and now people are talking about governance, the province is now talking about governance,” she said.