City of Fernie councillors have voted to hit the ‘pause’ button on their community liaison roles.
At the most recent committee of the whole meeting, Mayor Qualizza said that there were some misunderstandings and inefficiencies with the current arrangement of assigning city councillors to act as liaisons with community partners, triggering the need for a reset.
Qualizza explained that in meetings with board presidents from around town, a few issues were cropping up, first in that many had thought it was a requirement to receive any funding through the city that they had a council liaison.
“None of us knew who wanted (a liaison) – was it us, was it them? I was surprised to hear that,” said Qualizza.
She added that the current arrangement was messy and uncoordinated in getting projects spotlighted and having the city work with community groups.
City staff now have staff-to-staff relationships with various groups to talk about initiatives instead, which Qualizza said was “working really well.”
Finally, she said that having councillors on boards appeared to have a smothering effect on discourse.
“Having a councillor at the table tempers honest conversation about challenges that a board may or may not be having because it feels a little intrusive,” she said, adding that despite this many groups still expressed that their relationship was good with the city.
Councillors voted unanimously to pause the current liaison program, and directed staff to prepare a template and job description for the city, so that if and when a community group wanted to request a liaison, the city would have a process and an expectation of how the system would work.
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