By Belle Hatfield
Members of Yarmouth Town Council will soon be able, once again, to accept nominations to serve on committees of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
A recently approved policy that excludes council appointments to non-municipal boards and committees, also shut the door on councillors’ participation in these organizations. Council approved an amendment to the new policy at a committee of the whole meeting last Thursday, Jan. 24. The amendment allows for participation in boards and agencies like the UNSM where the council has approved membership.
It was councillor Dan MacIsaac who originated the discussion in November that led to the decision to eliminate councillors’ participation on non-municipal boards, like the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation or the YMCA. MacIsaac’s November motion directed staff, “to draft a policy to exclude non-municipal boards and committees” from the list of council appointments.
Traditionally there has been council representation on boards like the YMCA, in which there is a direct public interest and an expectation of ongoing municipal funding support.
The move was made to streamline and reduce councillors’ workload and to remove any perception of a conflict of interest.
Council’s decision to stop accepting appointments to non-municipal agencies has raised the ire of at least one resident. In a letter to council, Martha Cassidy questioned the decision.
“When questions regarding funding various organizations come up, it is helpful to taxpayers to know that someone on Council has attended at least some of the meetings of these groups,” she wrote.
Following is the original policy approved by council:
1. The purpose of this policy is to :
a. Manage the required appointments of Councillors to ensure the workload is appropriate and focused on the mandate of council
b. Ensure all Councillors are able to exercise their decision-making authority without undue influence from non-municipal organizations.
2. In order to meet these purposes, Council agrees that Council will only make appointments to committees or boards that meet at least one of the following criteria:
a. Created by Council through by-law or policy
b. Created by Council through an inter-municipal or intergovernmental agreement,
c. Created by Council through any other form of incorporation
d. Council is required to make appointments by an act, regulation, order, or other form
provincial or federal direction
3. Council shall not make an appointment where a non-municipal board or committee has written into their by-laws that a seat is reserved for a member appointed by Town Council, unless the organization meets the criteria identified in Section 2 of this policy.
The amendment to the new policy should be approved at council’s next regular meeting on Feb. 14.