Langford voted to cut its number of committees from five to two on a temporary basis as it goes through its budget process during Monday’s (Feb. 6) council meeting.
The recommendation came from city staff, which highlighted the low level of attendance and the high rate of cancellations for committee meetings in the past, in a report to council.
Every council decides how many committees there are and what they cover.
Langford has five committees: planning, zoning and affordable housing; administration and finance; protective services; transportation and public works; and parks, recreation, environment, culture and beautification. There’s also the board of variance, which is required under the Local Government Act.
During last council’s term, the majority of committee meetings were cancelled, apart from the planning and zoning committee, which met more often than all the other committees combined. In 2019, only 11 out of the 48 scheduled meetings for the finance, protective services, parks and transportation committees went ahead.
After 2021, the schedule for council meetings was changed, meaning there were only five meetings a year for those four committees (rather than the previous monthly meeting schedule). Although meetings were still being cancelled – only the transportation committee meeting in 2021 had one meeting cancelled, otherwise, the finance, protective services, parks and transportation committees had at least two of the five meetings cancelled.
Staff said in the report meeting cancellations happened for a number of reasons, due to a lack of staff to oversee the meetings, lack of issues to discuss and people in attendance, as well as the need for in-camera meetings.
In the meantime, council voted to establish two committees, one for planning and engineering-related matters, and another for everything else.
Coun. Mary Wagner said she struggled with the issue but said that the two committees were a good compromise.
Staff also suggested a committee of the whole meeting could be held on an as-needed basis. Budget meetings could be one example of this, said Braden Hutchins, director of corporate services for the City of Langford.
The number of committees and what they cover will be reviewed after the budgetary process is complete.