Need for governance study a puzzling choice

NANAIMO: So many taxpayers lament the manner in which council too often conducts business.

To the Editor,

At the Nov. 5 meeting of the committee of the whole, council approved by a 6-3 vote an expenditure estimated to be between $9,000 and $50,000 for a consultant to study governance in the City of Nanaimo.

What is governance?

Questioned on this, city staff responded: “Council has defined governance through its policies, practices and structures in addition to the parameters of the Community Charter.”

You may ask why, when council and staff exercise the powers which they were given by the Community Charter or have taken unto themselves with their “policies, practices and structures” every day, that we should need to hire a consultant to tell us what those are rather than having it defined by the well-paid staff that exercise them routinely and the council which routinely makes decisions about them?

Clearly, if we have a misunderstanding on these points then such a document is required, not only for a consultant, but for council, staff and citizens as well. With such a defining document completed in-house, then external experts can critique our “governance” and make suggestions for improvement.

Not long ago some councillors suggested that the city hire an external consultant to undertake a core review of our services, a much broader and more inclusive undertaking than this. Staff immediately responded that they could effectively and efficiently perform such a task themselves. Yet concerning this much reduced question – really just a part of a core review  – staff argues it is necessary to hire someone to prepare the report which they can then proceed to critique. Why?

If council feels that it does not know its policies, practices and structures in addition to the parameters of the Community Charter, nor either does staff, then it is of small wonder that so many lament the manner in which council too often conducts our business.

Ron Bolin

Nanaimo

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