Surrey council voted Monday to amend the terms of reference of its newly created Public Engagement Task Force, but one councillor took issue with the changes.
“I am very concerned about the terms of reference that remove both the public and staff as members,” said Councillor Steven Pettigrew ahead of the vote. “I thought that the whole point of the task force was to engage the public and I feel that the changes go against the original intent of the task force. I will not be supporting these proposed changes.”
Last December, Surrey council directed staff to develop the terms of reference and a workplan for the task force – a promise of the Safe Surrey Coalition along the campaign trail.
The terms of reference were considered at the first meeting of the task force, a report to council notes, and amendments were recommended at that time: They include “formatting, removing workplace information, changing the membership criteria and identifying a meeting quorum.”
In the report to city council on Monday, staff recommended the membership criteria be amended to “remove external members as regular members to the Task Force as it was identified that representatives from community organizations can be invited to participate as required.”
“Further, it is recommended that staff be removed from the Membership category and instead be included under Staff Assistance category,” the report adds.
Along with those changes, council also approved a staff recommendation that a quorum of two members is required for each meeting.
Councillor Brenda Locke asked city staff for clarification on staff involvement.
Laurie Cavan – Surrey’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture – told council staff would still participate in the committee, “to advise and respond and support the initiatives of this task force.”
“As we do with many committees and initiatives of council, staff are there to advise and respond and support the initiatives of this task force. Certainly staff are engaged with the process and providing advice and support,” she added.