The City of Nanaimo is looking at forming a committee dedicated to examining and dealing with issues related to the environment.
Nanaimo city councillors unanimously affirmed their interest in creating an environmental committee during a governance and priorities committee meeting on April 29.
Details about the committee remain unclear at this point; however, staff are expected to suggest terms of reference later this month.
“There was a lot of interest and support for supporting something like an environmental committee [but] we sort of parked that conversation. It’s very much an evolving process,” said Coun. Tyler Brown.
The April 29 meeting, more than four hours long, included discussion around various committees and task forces and council expressed interest in a series of economic roundtables, a similar idea around homelessness and an official community plan steering committee.
“We’re going to do, I think, some neat ideas that may [include] some traditional committees, but also might be very issue-based so we can action items while not necessarily just creating work for the sake of creating work,” Brown said.
Councillors, who have been in the process of restructuring city committees for months, recently recommended that five inactive committees be eliminated. The five committees – community planning and development, community vitality, public safety, public works and engineering, and parks recreation and wellness – have been inactive since September.
During the governance and priorities meeting April 29, councillors debated whether they would rather have an environmental task force or committee.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said she is supportive of an environmental committee and believes it is “very important.” She said a committee could deal with general environmental issues but also have the ability to request the creation of task forces that could deal with more specific issues.
“Environment is key to everything and so I do think that committee is very critical and I think from that committee they can recommend a task force for specific items,” she said.
Coun. Ben Geselbracht said he liked the idea of an environmental task force that could evolve into a committee while Coun. Ian Thorpe said he wouldn’t be opposed to an environmental committee if council believes it will be “most effective” method.
Meanwhile, Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the environment is clearly a priority of council and cannot imagine council not establishing a committee that deals with environmental concerns and issues. He said a task force isn’t the best way to go because environmental issues won’t be solved anytime soon, adding that a committee would be the best approach.
“A task force and a roundtable probably doesn’t make much sense and if we are serious I think we need to establish a committee,” he said.
Councillors and staff will discuss further details at a governance and priorities committee meeting May 13 that will be focused on the environment. Councillors declared a climate emergency at a city council meeting April 29.
-files from Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin