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Environmental Advisory Committee to be revived in the County

An Environmental Advisory Committee is to be revived in the County with official council approval at its next regular meeting.

In May, council sought to re-establish the committee in light of early and continuing effects of climate change.

The former advisory committee was dissolved in 2013 when the then-council completed a good governance review process. The review included an assessment of the purpose, value and achievements of the advisory committee system. The environmental committee was dissolved as the committee recommended functions and advice could be undertaken by a residents resources program.

The new committee would not be policy makers, but would focus efforts on providing community learning, awareness and engagement on issues such as climate change, pesticides, and water and energy conservation measures and help council and staff develop programs for environmental management.

“The time is right,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson, using the example that the committee could move forward on suggestions such as asking council to ban single use plastics, and working with other groups such as the new Plastic-free PEC … We have to take this seriously. This is a starting point.”

Members of the committee would be volunteers receiving no remuneration, and the report notes no member should directly, or indirectly receive profit from their position.

Councillor John Hirsch wants to see more information on applications from potential appointees about their experience, beyond the name and address currently on the form.

“Applicants should have a demonstrated skill-set or competence,” said councillor Phil St. Jean. “They need experience with what they will propose to do, not just a love for the environment. We want to show we’re serious about this and have them help us to do the right thing.”

Councillor Mike Harper suggested beefing up youth involvement. Several councillors agreed a youth opinion would be valuable among the public positions.

The committee is proposed to consist of councillors, one of which sits on the planning committee, and members of the public, including at least one youth between the ages of 18-25, to be appointed by council. Quinte Conservation would also provide a staff person and alternate to participate. The mayor is ex-officio.

Cost of municipal staff resources to advisory committees has not been quantified, however, the report states it is important to note that with recent realignment and council direction to find efficiencies, “it is more important than ever to ensure our staff time is used as effectively as possible.”

Council’s next regular meeting is Nov. 12.

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