The word committee is approximately 700 years old.
It originally meant a person “appointed to attend to any business, a person to whom something is committed.”
About 100 years later the word grew to reference a body of people with a comparable charge.
The point is committees are very old things, yet in the Town of Princeton they are new again.
And this is good.
Of course committee work has always been a significant part of a council member’s job. There is the airport committee, the health care steering committee, the Okanagan Regional Library Board, the committee for the approval of public events, the Vermilion Forks Community Forest Corporation.
And so on. And so on. And so on.
However the town’s new council has struck three additional committees in just two meetings.
First it established the KVR Mixed Trail Use Select Committee, which will have a year to make recommendations to council about how the trail can be shared.
That was no surprise, as motorized use of the KVR was a key election issue.
Then last week two new advisory committees were created, one to review existing bylaws and another to make recommendations on arts, culture and heritage.
In all cases the majority of participants around the tables will not be politicians, rather representatives from the general public and from specific interest groups.
This is a model of municipal governance that is widely used elsewhere and usually effective.
It allows for “regular” citizens to participate in the decision making process and gives those people opportunities to feel heard, and be heard.
Conceivably, an advisory committee can shoulder some of the heavy lifting on issues for staff and councillors through research and suggestions for elected officials to consider.
The committees have been set up to promote transparency, as meetings will be open to the public and minuted.
During what can fairly be described as an extremely active election that saw 18 different people running for five chairs, many people came forward both with the willingness to serve the town and with questions about how the municipality works.
There is talent to be mined…and hopefully some of those candidates will consider applying for a committee position.
It’s a good first step.
It’s all a good first step.
– The Similkameen Spotlight