Confusion in debate over traffic committee

Council wrestles with shutting down and replacing a traffic safety committee.

Confusion abounded during a debate on dissolving a committee on traffic safety at city council on Monday evening.

Staff had recommended to dissolve the Cranbrook in Motion committee as it hadn’t met since Nov 2015 and replace it with a citizen engagement committee.

That touched off a debate about the value of the Cranbrook in Motion committee, which included representation from the school district, RCMP, ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation.

A vote to dissolve the committee was defeated, meaning that the committee still exists, however, staff will bring terms of reference for a citizen engagement group to shed light on what powers a potential replacement will have.

Councillors Isaac Hockley and Tom Shypitka both sat on the committee and advocated to keep it running as both felt there was value in having a wide cross section of representation at the meeting.

However, city staff noted that the committee hadn’t met since November 2015 and that a call for committee recruitment hadn’t been directed by council a month after the last meeting, explaining why the committee didn’t meet at all in 2016.

Chief Administration Officer David Kim said administration recommended the dissolution of the committee to be replaced by a citizen engagement group to make things more efficient.

Items referred to the committee include traffic safety and control at all schools, setting and changing speeds throughout the city, requests for changes to traffic patterns, parking issues at the hospital and Western Financial Place, requests to change street lighting and requests for traffic control.

Kim argued that many of the concerns brought forward are technical in nature and that instead of issues being brought forward to a committee, issues can be brought directly to administration, which has the expertise to anticipate complications and resolve any concerns.

Once staff receives a traffic complaint, for example, a solution can be identified and shared with existing partners such as RCMP, ICBC, school district, Ministry of Transportation and others, including the new citizen engagement group.

After a motion to dissolve the existing committee was defeated, council decided to request terms of reference for the existing committee and a potential replacement to study the differences and make a final decision at a later meeting.

In addition to the debate around the Cranbrook in Motion Committee, council also voted to dissolve the Wellness and Heritage Committee and Heritage Sub Committee, and instead create terms of reference for a new Heritage Committee.

The old committee met on referrals, with only one meeting in 2015 and one in 2016. Moving forward, administration will utilize existing community planning documents to guid planning and will take advantage of relevant community resources when additional planning and guidance may be needed.