Revised guidelines see community councils with limited legislative powers

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton’s revised community council policy could mean more politicians will create local organizations which will have limited legislative powers, says Dundas’ councillor.

“(Councillors) might be more interested in having them knowing they won’t be imposed,” said Russ Powers.

In his community Mr. Powers oversees one of three community councils in the city. The Dundas politician took over the community council from former Dundas councillor Art Samson when he was reelected in 2006. Mr. Samson created the council in 2005 soon after he was elected in a byelection. Mr. Samson modelled his council after former Ancaster councillor Murray Ferguson’s advisory community council. Mr. Ferguson wanted an entity that would provide advice on local issues.

The other current advisory council was created by Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead in 2007. Prior to the 2006 municipal election, former mayor Larry Di Ianni helped to create community councils in Flamborough and Glanbrook. In Flamborough there were criticisms the community council helped to promote certain candidates for council.

Mr. Powers, who chairs the city’s governance committee, said his colleagues were reluctant last year to adopt community council guidelines in the wake of recommendations made by the Community Councils Task Force, chaired by Mr. Samson, for fear they would be required to create them for their areas.

“I think there will be little or no push back from councillors now (for the new guidelines),” he said.

This week the governance committee approved the revised guidelines presented by the city’s clerk. The recommendation, including that community councils be voluntarily created at the discretion of the local councillor, will be reviewed at the next audit and administration committee.

Essentially, the guidelines and rules the committee approved were similar to the task force’s recommendations,

including each community council having the same mandate and powers; that the councillor be a member of the council; the council will follow the city’s procedural bylaw; the members terms will run concurrently with council’s; and members will be picked through a selection process.

The task force recommended 11 members for a council, including the ward councillor. But city staff rejected the idea, especially since Ancaster’s community council had about 16 members, and Mr. Powers was proposing to add to his membership.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who took over his brother’s community council, said the revised recommendations standardize how community councils will work throughout the city. He rejected the idea they were ignoring the task force’s recommendations.

“The task force recommendations are what we are doing here,” he said.

Mr. Powers agreed, saying the task force’s recommendations are part of the committee’s recommendation.

“I don’t think their efforts were lost,” he said.

The community councils, which will be renamed ward advisory councils, will be able to comment on planning issues, and other local items.

But as city clerk Kevin Christenson said the ward advisory councils will have limited powers because city council can’t extend further decision-making powers under the Municipal Act. For instance, community councils can’t approve stop sign installations, establish speed limits on local roads, or appoint members to local agencies such as Business Improvement Areas.

“There are limited powers,” he said.

Mr. Powers acknowledged the ward council’s powers are more like what a community group has.

“They don’t have a lot of legislative powers,” he said.

Community councils now comment on local planning proposals, said Mr. Powers. That wouldn’t change under a ward advisory council, but a planning proposal would not be required to be approved by a ward advisory council, only by the city council.

Community councils in Toronto have more governing powers under the City of Toronto Act, which was granted by the provincial government.

The task force wrestled with such fundamental issues as whether the community councils should have a budget, whether the members should be elected, and the geographical area that a community council would represent. But as former Stoney Creek Councillor Phil Bruckler said, what residents really want from their local government is to participate and not more government in their face.

“What they want is more engagement,” he said.

Revised guidelines see community councils with limited legislative powers

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton’s revised community council policy could mean more politicians will create local organizations which will have limited legislative powers, says Dundas’ councillor.

“(Councillors) might be more interested in having them knowing they won’t be imposed,” said Russ Powers.

In his community Mr. Powers oversees one of three community councils in the city. The Dundas politician took over the community council from former Dundas councillor Art Samson when he was reelected in 2006. Mr. Samson created the council in 2005 soon after he was elected in a byelection. Mr. Samson modelled his council after former Ancaster councillor Murray Ferguson’s advisory community council. Mr. Ferguson wanted an entity that would provide advice on local issues.

The other current advisory council was created by Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead in 2007. Prior to the 2006 municipal election, former mayor Larry Di Ianni helped to create community councils in Flamborough and Glanbrook. In Flamborough there were criticisms the community council helped to promote certain candidates for council.

Mr. Powers, who chairs the city’s governance committee, said his colleagues were reluctant last year to adopt community council guidelines in the wake of recommendations made by the Community Councils Task Force, chaired by Mr. Samson, for fear they would be required to create them for their areas.

“I think there will be little or no push back from councillors now (for the new guidelines),” he said.

This week the governance committee approved the revised guidelines presented by the city’s clerk. The recommendation, including that community councils be voluntarily created at the discretion of the local councillor, will be reviewed at the next audit and administration committee.

Essentially, the guidelines and rules the committee approved were similar to the task force’s recommendations,

including each community council having the same mandate and powers; that the councillor be a member of the council; the council will follow the city’s procedural bylaw; the members terms will run concurrently with council’s; and members will be picked through a selection process.

The task force recommended 11 members for a council, including the ward councillor. But city staff rejected the idea, especially since Ancaster’s community council had about 16 members, and Mr. Powers was proposing to add to his membership.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who took over his brother’s community council, said the revised recommendations standardize how community councils will work throughout the city. He rejected the idea they were ignoring the task force’s recommendations.

“The task force recommendations are what we are doing here,” he said.

Mr. Powers agreed, saying the task force’s recommendations are part of the committee’s recommendation.

“I don’t think their efforts were lost,” he said.

The community councils, which will be renamed ward advisory councils, will be able to comment on planning issues, and other local items.

But as city clerk Kevin Christenson said the ward advisory councils will have limited powers because city council can’t extend further decision-making powers under the Municipal Act. For instance, community councils can’t approve stop sign installations, establish speed limits on local roads, or appoint members to local agencies such as Business Improvement Areas.

“There are limited powers,” he said.

Mr. Powers acknowledged the ward council’s powers are more like what a community group has.

“They don’t have a lot of legislative powers,” he said.

Community councils now comment on local planning proposals, said Mr. Powers. That wouldn’t change under a ward advisory council, but a planning proposal would not be required to be approved by a ward advisory council, only by the city council.

Community councils in Toronto have more governing powers under the City of Toronto Act, which was granted by the provincial government.

The task force wrestled with such fundamental issues as whether the community councils should have a budget, whether the members should be elected, and the geographical area that a community council would represent. But as former Stoney Creek Councillor Phil Bruckler said, what residents really want from their local government is to participate and not more government in their face.

“What they want is more engagement,” he said.

Revised guidelines see community councils with limited legislative powers

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton’s revised community council policy could mean more politicians will create local organizations which will have limited legislative powers, says Dundas’ councillor.

“(Councillors) might be more interested in having them knowing they won’t be imposed,” said Russ Powers.

In his community Mr. Powers oversees one of three community councils in the city. The Dundas politician took over the community council from former Dundas councillor Art Samson when he was reelected in 2006. Mr. Samson created the council in 2005 soon after he was elected in a byelection. Mr. Samson modelled his council after former Ancaster councillor Murray Ferguson’s advisory community council. Mr. Ferguson wanted an entity that would provide advice on local issues.

The other current advisory council was created by Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead in 2007. Prior to the 2006 municipal election, former mayor Larry Di Ianni helped to create community councils in Flamborough and Glanbrook. In Flamborough there were criticisms the community council helped to promote certain candidates for council.

Mr. Powers, who chairs the city’s governance committee, said his colleagues were reluctant last year to adopt community council guidelines in the wake of recommendations made by the Community Councils Task Force, chaired by Mr. Samson, for fear they would be required to create them for their areas.

“I think there will be little or no push back from councillors now (for the new guidelines),” he said.

This week the governance committee approved the revised guidelines presented by the city’s clerk. The recommendation, including that community councils be voluntarily created at the discretion of the local councillor, will be reviewed at the next audit and administration committee.

Essentially, the guidelines and rules the committee approved were similar to the task force’s recommendations,

including each community council having the same mandate and powers; that the councillor be a member of the council; the council will follow the city’s procedural bylaw; the members terms will run concurrently with council’s; and members will be picked through a selection process.

The task force recommended 11 members for a council, including the ward councillor. But city staff rejected the idea, especially since Ancaster’s community council had about 16 members, and Mr. Powers was proposing to add to his membership.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who took over his brother’s community council, said the revised recommendations standardize how community councils will work throughout the city. He rejected the idea they were ignoring the task force’s recommendations.

“The task force recommendations are what we are doing here,” he said.

Mr. Powers agreed, saying the task force’s recommendations are part of the committee’s recommendation.

“I don’t think their efforts were lost,” he said.

The community councils, which will be renamed ward advisory councils, will be able to comment on planning issues, and other local items.

But as city clerk Kevin Christenson said the ward advisory councils will have limited powers because city council can’t extend further decision-making powers under the Municipal Act. For instance, community councils can’t approve stop sign installations, establish speed limits on local roads, or appoint members to local agencies such as Business Improvement Areas.

“There are limited powers,” he said.

Mr. Powers acknowledged the ward council’s powers are more like what a community group has.

“They don’t have a lot of legislative powers,” he said.

Community councils now comment on local planning proposals, said Mr. Powers. That wouldn’t change under a ward advisory council, but a planning proposal would not be required to be approved by a ward advisory council, only by the city council.

Community councils in Toronto have more governing powers under the City of Toronto Act, which was granted by the provincial government.

The task force wrestled with such fundamental issues as whether the community councils should have a budget, whether the members should be elected, and the geographical area that a community council would represent. But as former Stoney Creek Councillor Phil Bruckler said, what residents really want from their local government is to participate and not more government in their face.

“What they want is more engagement,” he said.