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Potential changes coming to city’s advisory committees

City teams up with Guelph Labs to develop framework for roles, resources and more
20210420 Guelph City Hall RV
Richard Vivian/GuelphToday file photo

Change may be on the way for advisory committees in the city, including the roles they play in the decision-making process.

In collaboration with Guelph Labs, city officials are looking to develop a framework for advisory committees that addresses their composition, responsibilities and resource needs – something which doesn’t currently exist.

“I suspect there will be some significant changes coming out of that (review),” said deputy clerk Dylan McMahon, hesitating to suggest what those changes may be. “There may be some committees which don’t require any changes. There may be groups which do.”

Some of the city’s advisory committees provide guidance to municipal staff while others are tasked with making recommendations to council. Some, such as the committee of adjustment and Heritage Guelph, are provincially mandated to exist, while others were created locally.

“We want to design the framework, as much as we can, without talking about specific committees,” McMahon said. “We’re going to design it with the best practices that we would want to apply to all advisory committees in Guelph, regardless of how they currently exist.”

The framework study process is expected to get underway early next year, with a draft presented to council for consideration by the end of 2023. If approved, committees would then be reviewed one by one to see what changes are needed to align with the framework, with those potential changes heading back to council for consideration.

Guelph Labs, which is itself a partnership between the city and University of Guelph, recently posted an opening for a post-doctoral fellowship in civic engagement and local government to join “an interdisciplinary and collaborative research team” working on the study.

Along the way to developing a recommended framework, the team will conduct interviews with current and recent advisory committee members, as well as city council and city staff. 

“We’re excited about the project,” said McMahon. “I do see the framework as a critical piece to make sure that we’re resourcing (appropriately) – whether that’s staffing or just costing committees appropriately to make sure they have what they need to function within their mandates.”