Council sticks with the status quo

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After three weeks of lengthy discussions, Kincardine has flip-flopped on its plan to change its hybrid committee structure.

At its Feb. 4 meeting, council voted to maintain the current hybrid committee system it has had in place for the first two years of its mandate. Three weeks earlier, council had voted to change to a more traditional committee structure.

‘I’m confused, I thought this body had voted to go another direction,” said councillor Randy Roppel. “It’s plain and simple; let’s get on with a decision.”

Initially, council voted to get rid of the use of committee-of-the-whole. Some councillors were tired of committees doing a lot of work to make a recommendation, only to have it turned down by council.

Council was leaning towards a change that would see committee chairpersons report to council as a whole. It was expected this plan would give more information on each topic to more members of council, allowing for better communication and easier decisions.

Some councillors also suggested removing the public from all committees and moving forward with council-only committees.

“It doesn’t seem right to fire our committee members,” said councillor Mike Leggett. “We should get rid of committee of the whole to avoid discussing things twice. If it's not making our system more efficient, then we shouldn’t make any changes.”

Councillor Ron Hewitt said the current system is working well. Councillor Ken Craig said he wants a better understanding of what is going on in each committee, but the system used to achieve that isn’t important.

“(Switching systems) doesn’t seem much different than what we have now,” he said.

The major concern shared by councillors is a lack of information about what is going on in all committees. Deputy mayor Laura Haight said some projects affect more than one committee and the actions of one committee should be shared with others.

It was suggested that staff post the agenda from each committee’s meetings to make it easier for councillors to see the decisions being made before anything is brought to committee of the whole.

“We’re trying to improve a system that’s not broke.” said Hewitt. “We’re not doing that bad of a job.”

Council voted to continue using the hybrid committee system. Once its term is over, the next council will review the systems before determining the most efficient way to start its term.