Five people appointed to community services master plan working group

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A much smaller working group tasked with creating a comprehensive community services master plan for recreation and leisure opportunities in the Town of Huntsville has been established.

An amendment recommended by Kari Lambe, Huntsville Director of Community Services, to decrease the number of people on the working group from 11 to five was approved by Huntsville Council at its February 25 meeting.

The mandate of the group will be to create short and long-term priorities “for the development of recreation and leisure opportunities, parks and trails, and arts, culture and heritage including services and facilities in the Town of Huntsville,” according to a report presented to the Town’s Community Services Committee on January 31, 2019.

Originally, the working group consisted of the following 11 members:

  • Councillor Jonathan Wiebe, Community Services Committee Chair
  • Councillor Dione Schumacher, Community Services Committee Vice-Chair
  • Kari Lambe, Director of Community Services
  • Greg Pilling, Manager of Sales and Customer Service
  • Simone Babineau, Manager of Recreation and Leisure Services
  • Teri Souter, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Scott Ovell, Economic Development Coordinator
  • Colleen MacDonald, Manager of Parks and Cemeteries
  • Lay Member, to be named by the working group
  • Lay Member, to be named by the working group
  • Katie Love, Community Services Customer Service Representative (administrative)

An amendment introduced on February 25 and approved by council will now see that group made up of the following:

  • Councillor Jonathan Wiebe, Community Services Committee Chair
  • Councillor Dione Schumacher, Community Services Committee Vice-Chair
  • Kari Lambe, Director of Community Services
  • Brian Crozier
  • Karen Cassian
  • Other staff members as determined by the Director of Community Services

“A committee of 11 people is a very large committee to sit around the table and get things done and 11 people with seven staff people on it? I would question the efficiency of the use of our staff,” said Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano who welcomed the amendment, noting that pulling staff in for input on specific issues would be better than having them sit around the table at all of the group’s meetings.

“I like the amendment,” added Terziano.

Councillor Nancy Alcock questioned whether more lay people with experience around the issues the group would be examining might be of benefit.

“There could be people out in the community that have a particular strength in the area of parks planning or some of the other things that we’re doing in the community master plan, that may not be represented by those citizen members suggested on that new list,” she said. “Would it make sense to add one or two?”

“No,” responded Mayor Scott Aitchison, and added: “Here’s why: It’s a working group and we picked those lay people because of this project specifically. And as a working group, if they want to call on the resources of anybody else in the community they can do that.”

Aitchison said the working group would be guiding the process and would be able to draw from resources all over the community.

“Brian Crozier [former Huntsville Director of Community Services and Property Manager]has reams of experience and knowledge about all the facilities we have and all of the programs we’ve run over the years and Karen Cassian is more in touch with the arts/culture community than anyone I know, so that’s kind of why we wanted those people because of this project specifically and I think that they’ll be amazing on it and they’ll know who to go and get to talk to about specific projects,” he said.

Initially, the Town applied for a grant to hire a consultant for the project but did not get it. Instead, efforts were focused on using resources in-house.

“We wanted to concentrate the efforts more in-house and get our staff who know best who to pull from and where to get the information, rather than leaning on consultants, et cetera, to try and put together a plan for us when in the end we’re probably the best ones suited to guide our own plan,” Councillor Jonathan Wiebe, and chair of the working group, told council.

Prompted by questions from Councillor Brian Thompson about the additional workload on staff, Lambe said the project is certainly a large endeavor for staff who already have a busy workload, but they are the “subject matter experts and they know our community and our groups and have relationships built already so pulling [them]  in as needed, we can certainly do that,” she said. “It is something that is above and beyond their normal workload, but they’re committed to making that happen the best they can throughout the year.”

A draft plan is expected to be presented to the Town’s Community Services Committee by the end of the year. Lay members are volunteers on the committee. They do not receive monetary compensation.

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2 Comments

  1. If a grant was originally applied for to hire a consultant; why, upon it being unsuccessful, is everybody applauding a made-in-Huntsville solution? Furthermore, who better than Teri Souter to represent heritage on the Committee? And I don’t see a trails specialist among the names either: making trails accessible under the AODA, 2005 is an enormous incentive. Adding somebody of that ilk would increase the Committee size to seven; the ideal number for the Carver governance model.

  2. Lesley Hastie on

    Please consider installing water fountains around town. We need to reduce reliance on bottled water and the plastic waste that entails, and encourage use of our public water system. (Water fountains for people, each with an integrated low bowl for dogs please).
    Thank you.

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