Discussion became heated Wednesday night (Jan. 21) as
Kincardine council debated whether to change its system of
Currently, the municipality has a hybrid committee system which
means there are standing committees consisting of council
members, volunteers and staff. Delegations are heard and issues
discussed at the committee level and then recommendations made
to council, presented at committee-of-the-whole and later to
council for a decision.
Meanwhile, in a committee-of-the-whole system, the committees
are replaced by various department policy areas. Staff of these
departments make presentations to all of council at
committee-of-the-whole which then makes a recommendation to
council. All delegations are made at the committee-of-the-whole
Chief administrative officer John deRosenroll outlined the two
systems and the pros and cons of each. He said the major
drawback to a committee system is that all of council does not
know the "big picture" of what is happening in all departments.
"In addition, the committee system takes a lot of time to
organize, consumes staff resources and the turn-around time for
issues is longer due to the need to discuss them with the
committee," he said.
A committee-of-the-whole system allows council to know what's
going on in all departments, added deRosenroll, and takes less
time to organize and fewer staff resources. On the other hand,
it means council must meet three times per month, and citizens
would no longer sit on committees of council. His recommendation
was for council to demonstrate change and innovation by
switching to the committee-of-the-whole system, having completed
two years under the committee system. That would provide future
councils with information on both systems of governance.
Councillor Randy Roppel rejected that right off the bat,
preferring the status quo (hybrid committee system).
Councillor Kenneth Craig disagreed, saying councillors often
become too comfortable while in charge of their own little
committees. "It would be better to stop micro-managing things
and switch to the committee-of-the-whole system," he said.
"I agree with Ken (Craig)," said councillor Mike Leggett. "I
have a great committee, but I hate to see those people do so
much work and then come to council only to have council say
'Nah, we'll do something different.' We as council make the
decision, so why are we wasting their time?"
23/01/2009 12:21 AM
"The vast majority of decisions are supported by
council," argued councillor Ron Hewitt. "I say we stick with the
committee system; it's the best system. Otherwise, you're firing 20
"We'd be retiring them because they are no longer needed," said
councillor Marsha Leggett.
"No, you're firing them," said Hewitt.
"In two years, they could fire all of us," said Mike Leggett.
"We should stick with the committees," said councillor Gordon Campbell.
"No, we should go with a committee-of-the-whole system," said Marsha
"I agree with Mike (Leggett)," said mayor Larry Kraemer. "Two-thirds of
this council has experience with the committee-of-the-whole system from
former councils. It allows all of council to be involved in all
decisions, and hear all the input all the time. I like that system."
Kraemer pointed out that Bruce County council operates that way and it
is very efficient. "What we have right now is not a true committee
system," he noted. "With a true committee system, usually staff presents
a report to the committee which then makes a recommendation to council.
Our system includes committee-of-the-whole as another step. And with our
system, a committee can stop something before it even reaches council."
"Could this council live with a committee system and get rid of
committee-of-the-whole?" asked Roppel. "It's a shame to scrap our system
when we're just getting settled in. Perhaps this (change) could be
considered by the next council."
Deputy mayor Laura Haight then weighed in on the failure of the current
committee system and responded to derogatory comments made earlier in
the meeting by Campbell. "If Gord (Campbell) doesn't get his way, he
pouts and pouts and pouts," she said. "The public works committee (which
she chairs) works hard and puts forward recommendations to council, but
they get rejected in two minutes. The building and planning committee
was disappointed that Gord (chairman) had not even brought forward the
recommendation from that committee."
Kraemer cautioned Haight that her comments were becoming too personal.
"My concerns with the committee system is that council is making
decisions but we don't know all the information because it was discussed
at the committee," said Haight. "We all need the same information at the
same time. With the continuation of the committee system, we will be
asking 'what did we do last month' rather than 'what should we do next
month?'. We should be forward-thinking rather than just providing
oversight of the committees. We must be able to respond to the
Council agreed that it did not want to continue with the current hybrid
committee system. However, only Kraemer, Haight and Craig were in favour
of the committee-of-the-whole system.
Subsequently, the majority of council agreed to pursue a true committee
system, with Craig and Haight opposed. Councillor Guy Anderson was
absent from the meeting.
Staff was directed to come back to council with a proposal.