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CEAC streamlines work with council and public

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


After reflection and re-evaluation of the Community Engagement and Advisory Committee (CEAC) a new Terms of Reference and work plan for 2019 was formed, including limiting the number of public members from nine to seven.

CEAC also stated their new objective is to facilitate the process of council making informed decisions through the provision of stakeholders’ input and feedback as collected and reported.

CEAC is a group of citizen volunteers empowered by council to act as additional eyes and ears within the community to help the flow of feedback from residents to council, and information from council to residents on different issues, explained Garth Griffiths and Jailin Bertolin to council during the May 21 regular council meeting.

The two amendments in the draft CEAC terms of reference were the composition of the committee and to remove the budget consultation portion, which was later amended to bring CEAC in to one budget information session annually.

Currently, the committee is made up of nine people, one council representative, seven citizen representations, and one town admin.

“They work well together as a group of six, so they still have that one vacant position left over and they saw it as not needed to go up to ten members. They suggested to allow it up to eight,” said Hans van Klaveren, interim director of community services.

Information collected by CEAC is based on the five pillars of culture: recreation, education and wellness, local economy, and natural and built environments.

“The committee is basically based on five pillars of the community, those five pillars are part of the community sustainability plan. Those are represented already inside the membership of seven members,” added van Klaveren.

Coun. JoAnn Race stated that in a town of over 9,000 people, it would be better to have more CEAC members and she was not in favour of taking the members down to seven.

“Really the synergy of having ten people around the table, some committees it’s good if you’re leading with different tasks. But with everyone having the same task, I think the idea is ten people conversing in a 90-minute meeting, you don’t get an opportunity to speak,” countered Mayor Marcel Michaels.

When it came to removing the budget portion from the terms of reference, Coun. Albert Ostashek felt some sort of participation from CEAC in the budget process was important, “as a councilor, when we get the formal budget presented to us it helps so much in understanding how the budget works and I think having another group in the room even if there is no formal report back to council regarding that, I think it would help CEAC to be much more informed about the budget when they’re discussing it with members of the public.”

Mayor Marcel Michaels explained that taking this portion out was only to streamline work done and that CEAC would still be involved in the budget if requested.

Council then moved to amend the terms of engagement to add CEAC participation in one annual budget session.

Budget session was added in the definitions as an annual roundtable discussion between council and CEAC.

Community engagement by CEAC is done through day to day interactions, the Facebook CEAC page, surveys, open house sessions, and the town’s ‘My Hinton’ smartphone app, according to the presentation by CEAC.

After collecting information from the public, CEAC then advises town council through council attendance at CEAC meetings, sharing information through councillor briefing sections of council meetings, CEAC minutes shared with council, delegations in front of council, special meetings with council, and presentations to council of community feedback summary in November.

Griffiths went on to say that CEAC is conducting a survey of the community during the month of May, asking what the top three concerns of citizens are that the community should focus on to improve the quality of life in Hinton.

“I’m very optimistic. You have 225 inputs, or comments and thoughts,” said Mayor Marcel Michaels, adding that this was without the upcoming open house or the Facebook page and that they would shatter the goal of having 300 responses to the survey.

Surveys will be done through day to day interactions, paper surveys at various locations, facebook, phone, and an open house at the Parks West Mall on May 30, from Noon to 9:00.

To take the survey online, head to surveymonkey.com/r/7V22TN3.