Salmon Arm’s Environmental Advisory Committee is hoping to establish a better relationship with city staff and council.
Speaking on behalf of the municipal advisory body, member Tim Dunn told council the group hasn’t been given an opportunity to serve its purpose during the past year.
“Over the last year, we haven’t had any formal requests for input into anything. There’s been some things like OCP issues and environmental inventories, that sort of stuff – sort of mechanical… things that really haven’t tested any debate, provided any debate or any real recommendations,” said Dunn, adding some of the feedback the committee has given to council in the past hasn’t been in a format council can use.
Dunn went on to say the EAC can’t give council a unified statement on each item, but it can summarize information and provide suggestions that would serve as a “barometer as to how the groups on the EAC feel about whatever the issue is.”
Dunn then likened the current state of the EAC to Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey team.
“Unless the EAC gets some exercise, just like the men’s hockey team – you saw them hanging on there by a fingernail at times because they hadn’t worked together very much. There’s a ton of skill there, a ton of talent, but it took them a while to get it all kind of going in the same direction…,” said Dunn. “The committee needs to be used to be functional, it needs exercise, it needs practice in order to be useful. It comes down to essentially a use-it-or- lose-it comment.”
Dunn asked council to send the committee some projects and give its members an opportunity to impress. In addition, he said the committee would endeavour to provide in its minutes information that is more useful to council. Dunn also asked for some guidelines for how to comment on projects, etc.
Mayor Nancy Cooper said she hoped the city and council could find a way to use the committee, rather than lose it.
Coun. Alan Harrison agreed the city’s relationship with the committee needs to be worked on, and that it needs work to do.
“Imagine being on that committee, not having been given anything to do, coming up with your own stuff to do, sending it to council and council saying, ‘no, we don’t like it,’” said Harrison, noting he appreciated Dunn’s suggestion feedback not be a matter of black and white, or ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but reasoning for why something might or might not be a good idea.
Council agreed to ask staff for a brief report outlining the best way to channel development proposals to the committee so they can provide timely feedback.