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Wellesley councillors look at changing up township committee structure

Halfway through their term, Wellesley councillors are switching up their roles on township committees.

Staff will be putting together a report for the next council meeting after Mayor Joe Nowak suggested shortening the two-year term each councillor has as a chair of a committee, whether it be road and bridge, fire, recreation or planning.

Coun. Shelley Wagner will chair the planning committee, Coun. Herb Neher will now chair the road and bridge committee, Coun. Carl Smit will chair the fire committee and Coun. Peter van der Maas will continue to chair recreation. The change goes into effect on Nov. 29.

Nowak proposed giving councillors an opportunity to sit on each of the committees on a three-month rotation.

“The intent is that each one of the councillors gets to know the different portfolios the more we rotate this,” he said.

Not all of his colleagues were in agreement, however.

For van der Maas, a short rotation schedule might not allow councillors to be effective.

“To switch every three months, particularly for new councillors, you can’t work with any kind of confidence and background knowledge. All you will be doing would be pushing paper,” he said.

As the new chair of planning, Wagner says the current transition is difficult enough, let alone every three months.

“As much as I am going to embrace my new chair position, because I like planning and I am willing to learn whatever I can, for me, learning road, bridge, property and fire has been a big thing,” she said. “I kind of feel like I am abandoning ship when things are really starting to get going. It has been a process doing the fire master plan and all that. Three months is too short.”

Rather than a three-month rotation, Neher suggested a compromise at a year between chair position changes.

“Three months, there is no continuity in that. You are just getting into something and before you know it, you’re involved and then you out, and then someone new gets involved. Once a year, I could see,” he said.

Mayor Nowak wondered if maybe councillors weren’t clear on their roles as committee chairs.

“It kind of begs the question about what the role is of the councillor and the relationships between the councillor and the director. I think it is not really clear. I don’t know if it has ever really been defined,” he said.

He requested that CAO Rik Louwagie compile a report before the Nov. 29 deadline, outlining the expectations of municipal councillors sitting on committees.

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