Monday February 20, 2023 | COLWOOD, BC
Municipal notes by Harley Gordon | for Island Social Trends
The City of Colwood has announced the formation of eight new citizen committees.
The committees are on a volunteer basis, with one council member participating in each committee.
The committees are an opportunity for passionate and engaged residents to provide public participation on municipal issues. The committees are parks and recreation, active transport, environment, waterfront stewardship, heritage commission, planning & land use, and the board of variance.
Apply online or in-person:
Colwood residents can apply on-line or in-person to join the volunteer committees. Each committee is scheduled for quarterly meetings, and the volunteer term is a lengthy four years. This contrasts with public committees in Victoria, which have monthly meetings and volunteers serve a one-year term.
Terms of reference for these committees shows that there may be unscheduled meetings when the council wants to get short notice public input.
Colwood has had public committees in the past; however, due to the pandemic they had been shuttered. The reformation of public committees is a key component of Mayor Doug Kobayashi’s electoral aims of improving accountability and transparency in Colwood.
The current and former mayors of Colwood got their start in municipal politics on a public committee.
It remains to be seen if the volunteer committees, whose members are approved and appointed by Colwood council, are effective substitutes for public engagement. The committee decisions are also non-binding and serve as only recommendations to Council. It is unclear if council would ever accept a committee recommendation without debating it in the chamber anyway.
The committees may just be another layer of bureaucracy and delay to city decisions. Time will tell how much value Colwood councillors place on volunteer committee recommendations.
Colwood town hall: big ideas, engaged crowd (Feb 12, 2023)
Community hub in the works by Colwood & Village Initiative (Oct 12, 2022)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Harley Gordon is the past-president of CENIC – The Citizen’s Environment Network in Colwood, and was a federal Green Party candidate in 2021. He is a plant scientist by profession.
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends has been covering news of the west shore since 2008 (formerly MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, and West Shore Voice News 2014-2020). It’s the vision of Editor & Publisher Mary P Brooke to document an insightful digest about the communities of the west shore (including Langford, Colwood, Sooke, View Royal and Metchosin) as part of appreciating the unique socioeconomics and culture of south Vancouver Island. A lifelong entrepreneur and journalist, Ms Brooke also holds a B.Sc. in health science, a professional Certificate in Public Relations, and an industry certificate in digital marketing.