All ages sought to sit on new committee

After coming back before council with the blessing of the Community Services executive committee, the new community activities committee proposed by Mayor Dan Onichuk last month will become a reality.
“I’m happy we’re moving forward,” Mayor Onichuk said at Monday night’s council meeting. “Now we can advertise [for committee members].”
The mandate of the committee is to communicate with, and solicit input from, town residents and organizations for the purpose of promoting and organizing special events and activities for all residents and visitors of the community, according to a report drawn up by Community Services manager George Bell.
The objectives are:
•to contribute a feeling of community spirit and identity;
•to organize specific community events;
•to promote and develop volunteerism; and
•to be a conduit between the generations within the community.
The new committee will consist of the following:
•two members of council or citizens appointed by the mayor;
•two students appointed from the Fort Frances High School student executive council;
•two citizens at large with preference given to those under 30 years of age;
•two citizens at large with preference given to those under 50 years of age; and
•two citizens at large with preference given to those over 50 years of age.
“This is excellent,” remarked Coun. Tannis Drysdale. “I would just like to see how we could remove the age restriction we have for all our committees.
“They could be an excellent learning [for those under 18 years of age].”
Mayor Onichuk noted that was a worthwhile idea to explore.
Clerk Glenn Treftlin said the town used to allow it years ago, but noted interest among younger citizens dies after only two years of participation.
The new committee initially was called the “social activities committee,” but Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft advised the Community Services executive committee that it should be changed.
“”The term ‘social’ made me think of drinking and dancing at functions in the arena auditorium,” he remarked. “I thought it [the title ‘community activities’] increased the breadth of the committee.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Onichuk saw another of his ideas to get the public more involved in municipal politics well-received Monday night as council agreed to switch to a new schedule for town council meetings, which will see them start at a standard time.
“What I would like to achieve is to have consistent timelines as to when the public can expect us to start,” the mayor said during the committee of the whole meeting earlier Monday at the Civic Centre.
Mayor Onichuk proposed the committee of the whole should meet at 6 p.m. every two weeks upstairs in Council Chambers at the Civic Centre, as opposed to downstairs where it now meets.
Once the committee of the whole meeting is over, the council meeting will begin, also in Council Chambers (where they currently are held).
This will mean the public and media only have to stay in one room, and not move between downstairs and upstairs if they want to attend both meetings.
Under the proposal, any in-camera business, which normally is held before the committee of the whole meeting, would take place after the regular council meeting, so neither the public nor media would have to wait on council to finish those private discussions before the two public meetings are convened.
This should prevent any delays to the normally scheduled meeting times.
For instance, the committee of the whole met in-camera at 5:30 p.m. on Monday and was supposed to resume the public session by 6 p.m., with the council meeting to follow at 6:10 p.m.
In fact, they ran about a half-hour late, then spent at least 10 minutes downstairs in the committee of the whole room wrapping up that meeting as at least a dozen members of the public waited upstairs.
The council meeting that was scheduled to be over by 7:05 p.m. in fact ended around 8 p.m.
Council unanimously agreed to the mayor’s idea, and a bylaw will be prepared to be voted on at council’s next meeting Jan. 26.
“Being on council six years, it certainly makes sense to me,” said Coun. Struchan Gilson, the current chair of the committee of the whole.
“Having a public meeting at a set time has its merits,” agreed acting CAO Mark McCaig.
(Fort Frances Times)