Councillor Maureen Wilson’s motion spurs Hamilton Council to pause volunteer advisory committees for inclusivity review. Photo: YouTube/City of Hamilton
Hamilton Councillors have voted to pause the majority of the city’s Volunteer Advisory Committees and have directed staff to undertake an extensive review of the committee process.
One of the main reasons for the review is to give more of a voice to “equity-deserving groups.”
The idea was brought forward by Councillor Maureen Wilson (Ward 1 – Chedoke-Cootes-Westdale) and seconded by Councillor Tammy Hwang (Ward 4 – Hamilton East).
Wilson’s motion was passed at the Audit, Finance, and Administration Committee and was later approved by Council as a whole.
The motion states that the City of Hamilton should make the Volunteer Advisory Committee process more “meaningful, clear, convenient, and accessible.”
The text of the motion also notes that enhancing civic engagement supports two of Council’s top priorities: equity, diversity, and inclusion and increasing trust and confidence in city government.
The City of Hamilton website outlines the role of the Volunteer Advisory Committees: “Volunteer Advisory Committees are established by Council and are comprised of volunteer members from the Hamilton community.”
“Volunteer Advisory Committees provide advice to Council through reports on their area of expertise to an assigned Standing Committee,” the city site continues.
“Members of the Volunteer Advisory Committees are selected by the Interview Sub-Committee of the appropriate Standing Committee and are appointed by Council.”
In directions to staff, Wilson’s motion calls for them to report back to Council with their recommendations on “best practices that prioritize resident engagement” and “existing community-based engagement methods.”
Wilson also calls for staff to report back to Council with a “resource list of local equity-deserving groups doing community and grassroots organizing that can be contacted for engagement and feedback on city-wide processes and policies.”
Staff will also be analyzing how Volunteer Advisory Committees are run in other municipalities, analyzing the financial resources currently required to run the committees, and the current state of the committees in regards to attendance and member turnover.
The city has 14 volunteer advisory committees: Committee Against Racism; Women and Gender Equity Committee; Immigrant and Refugee Advisory Committee; Indigenous Advisory Committee; Mundialization Committee; Food Advisory Committee; Hamilton Veterans Committee; Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Advisory Committee; Seniors Advisory Committee; Arts Advisory Commission; Climate Change Advisory Committee; Hamilton Cycling Committee; and Keep Hamilton Clean and Green Committee.
All but the Climate Change Advisory Committee, Hamilton Veterans Committee, and Seniors Advisory Committee will be temporarily paused until the new report by staff is complete.
Staff are expected to return to Council with their report in early 2024.
The city also has two Sub-Committees of Council which are required by provincial legislation and are thus deemed “outside of the scope” of the review.
Those committees are the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities and the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee.
Based in Hamilton, he reaches hundreds of thousands of people monthly on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. He has been published in The Hamilton Spectator, Stoney Creek News, and Bay Observer. He has also been a segment host with Cable 14 Hamilton. In 2017, he received the Chancellor Full Tuition Scholarship from the University of Ottawa (BA, 2022). He has also received the Governor General’s Academic Medal. He formerly worked in a non-partisan role on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.