Issue of appointing councillors ‘clear’: mayor

While Monday night’s meeting ended with councillors wondering whether they were being appointed to different executive committees or not, a decision definitely will be made by next Monday, Mayor Dan Onichuk said.
The mayor said he contacted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on Tuesday and got some input on the town bylaw that was contested Monday night, which states: “Members of executive committees shall be appointed annually by the mayor, and approved by resolution of council.”
“With the executive committees, the bylaw’s clear,” Mayor Onichuk said. “It’s how it’s been done for years and years. They mayor makes the appointments and the council approves them.
“This is the first time it’s ever happened,” he noted, referring to the disagreement among councillors regarding procedural bylaw.
“I guess there’s certain councillors that don’t want to move,” Mayor Onichuk added. “I feel there’s reasons for the moves. For instance, Planning and Development has been one of our weaker areas and I wanted to change that.”
But the answers to any problems didn’t seem so easy Monday night, when the mayor announced the executive committees for the term running Dec. 1, 2004-Nov. 30, 2005.
And most councillors were vocal about the re-appointments.
“I’ve sat here previously on council, and before this has come forward, I’ve always had discussions with mayors to forward this as part of a team,” said Coun. Roy Avis.
“I think we lack a great deal of ‘team’ on this council,” he added. “The mayor would come around and say, ‘What’s your choice—first, second, third? That’s why it was never an issue when it came to the table.
“I think the mayor should have some consideration and discuss it with the rest of council,” added Coun. Avis.
While Mayor Onichuk acknowledged he’s had his own questions about the procedural bylaw for some time, the bottom line was there are problems with the town’s committees that he wants to straighten out as soon as possible.
“You’ve got committees out there that have no mandates, you’ve got committees that don’t exist. And I have problems with that,” he remarked.
Coun. Struchan Gilson said new councillors should get more time to learn about the committees they’re on while more experienced ones should go where they’re most useful.
“You have on this council seven of us. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses,” he remarked. “If we operate as a group, we operate far better than as individuals.
“I’d like to think we’re used to our utmost rather than just shoved here and there.”
“I agree with you,” said Mayor Onichuk. “That’s the reason I made a lot of the changes I made.”
Coun, Tannis Drysdale noted her first year on the Administration and Finance executive committee has involved a deluge of information to take in, or in the words of Coun. Todd Hamilton, “is like drinking out of a firehose.”
Only now has the committee and the town’s relatively new administrative staff started to “get things done that we have to get done.”
“I personally would have preferred to stay where I am for another year,” said Coun. Drysdale. “And then move on.”
“I think you put me where I could be used to the utmost,” said Coun. Hamilton, adding he would have liked a “heads up” of the proposed changes so he could adjust his schedule.
“Ideally, it should have happened at the end of November,” replied Mayor Onichuk. “We’re already two weeks behind schedule.”
“I’ve been here 10 years, and I have sat on all the committees,” noted Coun. Neil Kabel. “It’s appropriate the mayor talk to everybody, but I’m not sure that was always done.
“My willingness is if he wants me on a committee, I’ll do what I can do for that committee. If he wants me off it, he can take me off,” he added.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said he respected the mayor’s decision making the appointments. “But I find myself in a steep learning curves with the committees. I think you should stay on for a full three years,” he noted.
“I have a brain, and I can think. At the table, we’re all equals,” said Coun. Gilson. “I respect your right to make the appointments, but you have to respect our right as to whether we want to go ahead with that.”
Council took a vote as to whether to accept the mayor’s new appointments, with Couns. Kabel and Wiedenhoeft voting in favour.
But then the vote was interrupted when the mayor said he wanted to suspend the meeting until the Ministry of Municipal Affairs could determine whether or not his committee appointments required council approval.