Councillors appointed to new city committees

Mayor doesn't believe committee structure lines up with B.C. Community Charter, opposes political appointments.

New political appointments to City of Nanaimo committees were announced last week as groups get set to return to the table this September.

Coun. Wendy Pratt read out the roster of political appointments for committees, lacking support only from Mayor Bill McKay, who believes the structure doesn’t line up with the B.C. Community Charter and that the city runs a risk of being challenged by the community.

The assignments come on the heels of a committee restructuring in July, which saw the city strike down committees and merge or create others, and it included some changes. According to Pratt, council met and worked out the appointments together with suggestions from staff on who should go where, which she ultimately announced. Previously, the mayor presented committee appointments.

The mayor, who assigned himself to four select committees in 2015, also wasn’t named in the appointments, although Pratt said in a council meeting last week that it’s her understanding the mayor can attend whichever meetings he wants.

At issue for McKay is the designation of committees, which the city has labelled as ‘select’ but which he believes are ‘standing’ committees. The former, he said, are created and appointed by council to determine a specific, select issue and then are essentially dismissed, while a standing committee goes on for an extended period and deals with items on an ongoing basis.

He said the city should have followed the community charter, and the structure, membership and terms of reference needed to be overseen by the mayor.

Pratt said to her, there’s no basis in McKay’s dispute of committees’ legality.

“We’ve had legal opinion on it and the committees are fine, we are moving forward with them and I really wish people would stop focusing on it so much because honestly they are just committee appointments,” she said, adding she’s thrilled, and so is everyone else, to finally get back to committee tables.

New assignments will see Pratt sit on the Parks, Recreation and Wellness, Public Works and Engineering, and Community Planning and Development committees, while Coun. Jerry Hong has been tasked with the newly merged Culture, Heritage and Social Planning committee, Community Planning and Development Committee, and Design Advisory Panel.

Coun. Diane Brennan will sit on the Culture, Heritage and Social Planning and Community Planning and Development Committee, along with Coun. Gord Fuller. Coun. Ian Thorpe sits on the Parks, Recreation and Wellness Committee and Public Safety Committee. Coun. Bill Bestwick will sit on Parks, Recreation and Wellness and Public Works and Engineering, while Coun. Jim Kipp has been tasked with Public Works and Engineering, and Public Safety. Coun. Bill Yoachim is on the Public Safety committee and Culture, Heritage and Social Planning.