Citizen committees get reprieve

The Toronto Star
Paul Moloney Urban Affairs Reporter

City hall’s citizen-dominated advisory committees aren’t dead yet.A staff report requested by Mayor Rob Ford that proposed doing away with 21 volunteer committees was put on hold by city council Thursday.Council resurrected the aboriginal affairs committee. Meanwhile, other committees from cycling to pedestrians to cleaning up the Don River have been silenced while they await their fate.Council voted yesterday to have Mayor Rob Ford take a second look at what should happen to a number of the committees and report to the July council meeting.“I was hoping we’d be re-established but it is a reprieve,” said Dylan Reid, co-chair of the Toronto Pedestrian Committee.“The fact is some committees are moribund and that’s fine, they should be gone. But many, many committees were very active and the active ones that are still contributing to the city, I think should continue.”The pedestrian committee was selected for a second look, as was the French committee and others that focus on cycling, Nathan Phillips Square revitalization, access and equity, the Don River and children’s services.Council also wants Ford to look at setting up three new committees dealing with culture, parks and gridlock, and report in July.Councillors who spoke in favour of the committees said its members often have expertise that councillors don’t, and provide valuable advice for minimal cost.“We as councillors can’t know everything about everything,” said Councillor Sarah Doucette.The recommendation to scrap the committees sends the message to citizens that they “need not apply because we know best. That is wrong,” said Councillor Anthony Perruzza.“What you will be doing at some point is erecting barricades around this fortress,” Perruzza said, calling such an outcome anti-democratic and unproductive.“Quite frankly, you don’t know it all,” he told councillors. “You don’t have all the experts. There are a lot of people out there that are poised and qualified to provide input to us, whose advice we should take.”Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who was described as Ford’s quarterback on the issue, he personally believes most committees aren’t needed but he wouldn’t name them.“I think some of them are really a waste of time,” Mammoliti said. “I think it needs to be said that many of these committees were established by previous mayors and it’s time to cut it off for a bit and figure out what this mayor wants to do with respect to managing it.”The advantage committees bring to council is the ability to float ideas that can then go on to council for debate, Reid said.Over the past 10 years, the pedestrian committee assisted in developing a pedestrian charter, a walking strategy and improved snow removal on main downtown streets, he said.

Share this page