New governance model desperately needed
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It's been over a decade since the amalgamation of Kincardine with Kincardine Township and Bruce Township and the municipality is long overdue to shed its cumbersome governance model.
As chief executive officer John deRosenroll showed the new council last week, the current hybrid system of committees and committee-of-the-whole is neither efficient nor effective, given the amount of work council is expected to accomplish each month.
The current system just has way too many committees. Councillor Randy Roppel, one of the last stalwarts in favour of this model, will say these committees are valuable for public input. That is true. However, it's a poorly-run municipality that attempts to govern by committee.
We've seen this over and over with Kincardine. A committee puts hours of work into producing a recommendation and in less than 20 minutes, council dumps the idea in favour of something it came up with, itself.
That's frustrating for the volunteers on that committee.
And even more frustrating is that not all members of council sit on all the committees. Therefore, not all of council receives the information at the same time.
For example, those who sit on the public works committee hear what's happening with roads, bridges, sewers and water before the rest of council. They are part of the recommendation and, along with the public works manager, bring a presentation to committee-of-the-whole which includes all of council.
In many cases, that's the first chance some councillors have to hear what the problem is and the committee's recommendation to fix the problem. So, they must try to debate an issue after just hearing the information for the first time.
It's a micro-management system that may have worked well in rural municipalities, but the structure is far too out-dated to work in the Municipality of Kincardine which has to deal with everything from roads and bridges to tourism to downtown commercial cores to the nuclear industry to planning huge subdivisions.
The committee-of-the-whole model is a more effective and efficient way of operation that Kincardine should embrace and put in place immediately.
This system works well for our neighbours to the north in Saugeen Shores, and for our neighbours to the south in Huron-Kinloss. It also is the system of choice for Bruce County council.
It reduces the workload for everyone - council members and staff - and provides public input through citizen committees and presentations made by groups directly to council.
Basically, council meets in committee-of-the-whole and hears reports and presentations from various departments, including building and planning, corporate services, tourism, economic development, recreation, public works, Bruce Telecom, and emergency services.
The committee-of-the-whole makes a recommendation to council which deals with it as a legislative body, at a later date, either approving or defeating the recommendation.
It's a two-tier system that is neat and tidy. People can book a spot on the agenda and have their say directly to council, not having to go through a committee which may or may not take their concerns seriously.
Even better, all committee-of-the-whole and council meetings are covered by the press and are televised, while most committee meetings are not. This makes council open and accountable to the public in all matters under discussion.
It's a win-win, and council would do well to put it in place for this four-year term.
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Monday, December 06, 2010