EDITORIAL: Council should proceed carefully

We live in a participatory democracy and a frequent example of that is rank-and-file citizens rolling up their sleeves and providing skills and advice on critical issues.

For most municipalities, residents volunteer on a variety of committees, everything from accessibility and heritage to tourism and economic development.

Unfortunately, there are times when such a process can become bureaucratic, especially if they become dominated by special interests. Decision-making can slow down as the number of people involved grows.

So any attempts to streamline how  government functions should be praised.

However, there could be a significant downside to the City of Vernon going from 15 to seven committees of council.

Specifically, that wealth of knowledge many residents have will be lost at the table. Without a variety of perspectives, city policies could be narrow in their scope and implication.

As an example, economic development is a major issue as the region continues to struggle from the recession.

Will a committee only have a handful of people from some high-profile businesses or business groups or will there be a diversity, including an array of sectors, training providers and labour?

Without a range of solutions, any response to a lack of jobs could be unsuccessful.

Will tourism and its specific needs continue to be a priority if it’s possibly lumped in with economic development?

Issues such as affordable housing and transportation are so complex they may not get their due at  broad-based sessions.

Rationalizing resources and creating efficiencies should always be the goal, but reducing the voices involved may not be the best way to go.


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