Citizens committee must prove its worth

No need for Governance Review Citizens Advisory Committee to hire a consultant

Thank you for the excellent and most informative article by reporter Wolf Depner on the Saanich Governance Review Citizens Advisory Committee. Most enlightening indeed.

Now the citizens of Saanich are beginning to get the lay of the land, so to speak. It does raise a few questions. Why is the committee so large in number (12)? Often the greater the number of people on a committee the more dysfunctional it tends to become. Many times discussions go on ad infinitum. Consensus is hard to reach and the end result is that final recommendations are wanting both in number and quality. (Let’s hope that this will not be the case with the GRCAC.)

The initial public engagement of this committee is not scheduled until Jan. 12, 2017 and already its more than generous initial budget of $100,000 has been bitten into big time. (Forget the “slowly being eaten away” comment by Chairman Schmuck.)

Hardly initiated and already you’ve blown the wad. Why on earth do you need to hire a consultant for $58,000? (Yes, chief administrative officer Thorkelsson was trying to be helpful and accommodating but perhaps somewhat presumptuous assuming that Saanich council would approve additional funding to cover the consultant and other fees.)

Not so fast. If I were on council I’d say, “Not a penny more until GRCAC has proven its worth.” Either you are capable and truly committed and willing to serve gratis on behalf of fellow citizens or just pack it in. Forget the consultant bit. The last thing we want is a sub-mini-bureaucracy trying to run Saanich council.

As Mayor Atwell so cogently remarks, the GRCAC should be citizen led. Hiring a consultant is contradictory to this notion. Citizen led means grassroots input, not advice from a consultant.

Kudos to Vic Derman for zeroing in on the financial details of GRCAC to date and to Susan Brice for so wisely cautioning this committee not to overstep its mandate. We do not want a tail wagging the dog scenario or a committee that assumes that it has more far-reaching powers than it actually does. At best, its powers are advisory in nature.

Sylvia Walsh

Saanich