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Youth and Seniors' advisory committees won't be disbanded

Both committees have been on the chopping block for months
STOCK St. Albert Place in St. Albert November 1, 2017.

After months of self-analysis, St. Albert's Youth and Seniors' Advisory Committees are one step closer to having council approve recommendations to utilize each committee more often.

Late last year, both the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) and Seniors' Advisory Committee (SAC) were tasked by council to determine what committee members felt the future of each committee should be, with disbandment considered an option due to both committees feeling frustrated with the lack of items referred to them by council to give opinions on.

As the Gazette previously reported, both the SAC and YAC had recently finalized their recommendations to council for what the future of the committees should be, and on June 13 those recommendations were presented to the standing committee of the whole and approved unanimously.

The recommendations, all of which were approved unanimously by the committee of the whole, will require council to approve amendments to each committee's legislative bylaw during an upcoming council meeting.

The bylaw amendments the YAC is asking council to finalize include instituting an annual local governance training session for committee members, ensuring council makes “best efforts” to refer at least two items to the YAC each year for review, and granting the YAC the “authority to undertake volunteer opportunities in St. Albert related to matters that impact youth in the community.”

The SAC is asking for similar bylaw amendments, such as ensuring council refer at least one item per year to the SAC for review, allowing the committee to meet only when necessary with a minimum of three meetings per year, reducing the mandatory number of members the committee must have from eight to six, and to require the SAC “re-evaluate its purpose in 2025.”

During the June 13 meeting, the committee of the whole also applied the SAC's recommendation of re-evaluating its purpose in 2025 to the changes asked for by the YAC.

Prior to voting, Coun. Natalie Joly said to the YAC and SAC representatives present at the committee meeting that she understood how frustrating it's been to have many meetings with no council-assigned work to do, and that she hopes these bylaw amendments will bring the desired changes.

“I know it's been frustrating having meeting upon meeting with no work to do,” Joly said. “I think everyone volunteers because they want to provide value and council hasn't been providing that for them unfortunately.”

As Joly is currently the council representative and non-voting member of both the SAC and the YAC, Mayor Cathy Heron said that in order for council to continually use each committee more frequently, Joly will need to proactively see what's coming to council and recommend items be referred to the committees for review.

“I'm going to lean on you and I think the (council representative) needs to shoulder some responsibility of looking at what's coming up and referring it to these committees,” Heron said to Joly during the meeting. 

“Maybe the two of us can figure out how to make that work because we all know a year-out what some topics are coming and I think there's some missed opportunities that we should stop missing.”

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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