The end of the road for Ottawa’s Advisory Committees…

… or at least the way they were constituted before yesterday, is, in effect, using a chainsaw where a scalpel would have been appropriate.

Last year, I applied to sit on the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) and lo and behold, the selection committee accepted my application! So, pending Council approval, I was a member of a group whose work I had admired from the outside. A group whose members were (and are) a diverse collection of individuals with enormous expertise to offer up to our elected officials.

And, except for the small cost of a staffer taking Minutes and organizing the monthly meetings, it was FREE ADVICE!

But this Council didn’t see it this way. They had planned on doing a review of the City’s Advisory Committee (AC)  structure for sometime, and my nomination was never formally approved by Council. I’m not arguing against the review. There were some AC’s that had clearly passed their best-before dates. So my appointment was held up pending the completion of the review.

Yet, despite not being a formal member,  I still attended some, if not the majority, of the EAC meetings as an observer… not because I didn’t have anything better to do (I did), but because I felt their work to be valuable, interesting and I wanted to be a part of it.

Will I apply to the newly constituted, “better than ever” Environmental Stewardship AC? I’m not sure. I do have a lot on my plate already, and if the Council’s approach is to render AC’s into simply PR tools (We are consulting with the public! Look at us!), then I’m not really interested. We’ll see.

Finally, I’d like to give a tip of the hat to the members of the EAC. From my seat in the gallery, they were all talented, intelligent and informed individuals with no interest other than to provide the City with what guidance where they could.

You know, some criticise the motives behind volunteers involving themselves in groups like these; claiming that they are wanna-be politicians who are just trying to get exposure for themselves and make contacts at City Hall. You see this a lot in the mainstream media. Maybe they are just too jaded to see the real reasons why folks like the AC members (and I’ll include myself, as well) “get involved”.

So, Patrick Quealey, Jason Pearman, Martin Canning, Bill Toms, Bill Pugsley – and all the rest of you;  a fellow Ottawan recognises the value of your past work and would like to say “thanks”! You did done good!

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