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Councillors able to vote on VOP advisory committees

Cell policy puts councillors, mayor on equal footing

By Cindy Filipenko

Councilors can now become voting members on two of the Village of Pemberton’s advisory committees. As well, elected representatives will have their cell phone expenses covered thanks to the introduction of new policies at the Jan. 23 VOP meeting.

The Advisory Design Review Committee and Advisory Land Use Committee were initially formed as bodies to provide advice to council on matters of building design and land use. While council members have always been welcome to sit at the table of these meetings, the change will make them full voting members. Additionally, the size of both committees have been reduced.

Asked if this change to the committee structure was necessary considering that council has the right to support or reject a committee’s recommendation, Mayor Jordan Sturdy deferred the question to Administrator Lori Pilon.

Pilon said that making this change brought the standing committees into compliance with legislation governing municipal governments. The new terms of reference were adopted at the Jan. 23 VOP meeting.

Mayor and council also voted to accept the recommendation: “That staff develop a policy for council regarding cell phone expenditures by council members based on other municipality’s (sic) policies; and that in the event that other municipalities do not have any such policies, that staff develop their own policy in house.”

Asked for the reason why the policy was being introduced Councillor David Mackenzie quipped, “Because people call too much.”

Councillor Mark Blundell recounted that he had recently had a month where his cell phone bill exceeded his councillor’s stipend. The annual stipend for council members is $6,000 a year.

“We only covered the mayor’s business calls in the past,” stated Pilon.

The mayor and administrator agreed that the reason for the introduction of the policy was to create equality in the way the expenses of all the VOPs elected officials are handled.