We are four of the people who resigned from the Community Finance Advisory Committee (CFAC). We are experienced professionals who were committed to providing a community voice on city finances. We are community development consultants, a facilitator, MBAs, a CPA, authors and researchers. None of us had preexisting relationships with mayor Dave Formosa or councillor George Doubt.
The article [“Powell River council outlines resignations from city committees,” January 29] leaves us with a question: “why are community leaders and professionals leaving the city’s directorships and select committees?” Let us be clear, our reasons had nothing to do with not being committed. For councillors to explain our resignations away with issues of commitment or time constraints is either disingenuous, or shows they didn’t listen to the letters of resignation.
At committee meetings we raised suggestions related to the terms of reference, about aligning the work with community needs and values, about guiding principles or a framework for decision-making, and were told this wasn’t how the committee would work. Committee members were told they don’t know what they’re talking about. We felt our involvement wouldn’t impact the outcomes of the committee.
Originally there was gender diversity among the 12 community appointees. But representation does not guarantee inclusion. Now only six remain, all men. With mayor Formosa and councillor Doubt as chair and vice-chair, this leaves eight men believing they can fairly represent community needs and values. The problem of the resignations is not those of us who left, nor those who remain. The problem lies with committee design and function.
Our recommendations are that: the CFAC should be disbanded. It would be a shame to have remaining members to continue another year, only then to experience council and community resistance to their recommendations because they don’t represent the diversity of the community and therefore lack legitimacy; community advisory committees should include space for only one member of council, as required by provincial legislation, with the chair chosen by the committee; committees should operate by consensus. Consensus looks like finding all the views including dissenting views, deliberating and building on each others’ ideas, arriving at a promising solution, and finding what it would take for everyone to come along. Robert’s Rules of Order should be used only as a final step to enact decisions as required by provincial legislation; committees should use early meetings to develop shared goals and a framework for decision-making.
Trina Isakson, Mary Morgan, Nola Poirier and Colleen Tompkins, former CFAC members