Dear Mayor and Council Members,
Municipal Advisory Committees provide guidance to City Council on matters of diversity, inclusion and anti-oppression; environment; forestry; cycling; accessibility and more. The residents who sit on these committees volunteer considerable time and expertise to make our city better. The proposed plan to consolidate, streamline and cut advisory committees is a false economy, and more importantly it suggests that consulting and engaging citizens as subject matter experts is not valued enough to be embedded in the City’s delivery of public service.
Pillar Nonprofit Network is not opposed to a review of the role advisory committees play in our city. In fact, it is our assessment that the current structure for recruitment and retention would benefit from an overhaul. We recommend that the City of London apply a racial, ethnic and gender equity lens to this important form of community engagement, revising the application process to solicit applications from a diverse population that more accurately reflects our community, and removing barriers to participation (such as reviewing the timing of meetings and facilitating the provision of childcare, to list a few examples) in order to attract contributions from a broader range of citizens with professional and lived experience to share.
Advisory Committees play an essential role in providing counsel and insight to inform Council decisions. They exist to lend their expertise to the review of plans and policies and they do so as volunteers without compensation, providing countless hours of valuable consultation and input.
The more significant issue is that these citizen experts’ contributions are not valued; their recommendations are often unimplemented or ignored. Any efforts to review the role of advisory committees should be focused on how to make the most effective use of this resource, with the aim of strengthening the voice and role of citizens in the City’s decision-making systems.
Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director, Pillar Nonprofit Network
Dharshi Lacey, Director, Diversity & Governance