Thursday, 5 October 2017

What Role Would a YRC Councillor Have?

If  YRC becomes a reality, there would be 7 Councillors (each one representing a ward and elected by residents of that ward).  There would also be a Mayor.  

There is a government document that describes the roll of a Councillor (Local Government Resource Manual - Province of New Brunswick).  It can be found at:
http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/lg-gl/pdf/LocalGovernmentResourceManual2.pdf

The following information is taken from page 13 and 14 of the document.  

3.14 Role of the Councillor

a. Serves the Interests of the Whole Community

- Local governments serve their communities by providing services and programs. They also serve their communities through the by-laws they put in place and enforce. One of the roles of the councillor is to ensure that what their local government is doing continues to reflect the needs of the community. As stated in legislation, a councillor shall consider the welfare and interests of the entire municipality when making decisions and bring to the attention of council matters that may promote the welfare or interests of the municipality. Council members should therefore be continuously thinking about what their local government provides and what adjustments, if any, should be made to better serve the community. Municipalities Act: (a)(b)(2.1) 

b. Develops and Evaluates Policies, By-Laws 

- As part of the decision-making role, council members must take the time to evaluate and review the local government’s by-laws, policies and agreements to ensure they continue to reflect community needs. A helpful exercise would be to periodically review all of the municipality’s by-laws (perhaps every four to five years) to ensure that what is in place continues to have relevance for the community and continues to be enforceable. A schedule could be prepared that would specify when by-laws are to be reviewed. Municipalities Act: 36(2.1)(c) 

c. Attends Council and Committee Meetings 

-A critical component of a councillor’s work is attendance and participation in council meetings. In fact, a councillor’s attendance at, and active participation in, council meetings are required by legislation and are crucial if a local government is to work effectively. Council meetings provide the opportunity for sharing information, debate, consensus-building and ultimately, the making of decisions. The council meeting is the forum through which decisions are made and the policy direction for the municipality is established. Municipalities Act: 36(2.1)(d) 

d. Policy development 

-Like the mayor, councillors have a very important role in setting policy direction for the municipality. Setting policy direction involves engaging in debate, providing input and ideas on programs, by-laws and policies and making decisions through the voting process at council meetings. 

e. Representing the Community 

- Councillors are elected to make decisions on behalf of the community. On the surface, this activity may appear to be relatively straightforward. Ideally, all decisions of council would be welcomed by the entire citizenry and business community. In reality, this rarely happens and decision-making for councillors can be difficult and sometimes very uncomfortable. There are decisions that council members will make that will unavoidably be unpopular with a minority or possibly a majority of the population. Councillors can often find themselves in a situation where they must balance citizen perspectives with council’s long term vision. If council members can always remember that they were elected to make decisions that are in the best interests of the whole community (both short and long term), it will help when difficult decisions have to be made. Like the mayor, councillors also serve to represent the broad interests of the community and as such, should bring to the attention of council. 

f. Financial Role 

- Every council is expected to approve its community’s budget on an annual basis. In establishing the budget and subsequent tax rate, councillors must adhere to municipal accounting principles and financial policies when determining how a municipality will allocate its funds. Working with administrative staff, they must constantly assess needs in determining the level of services it wishes to bring to residents/businesses of the community. 

g. Conflict Resolution Role 

-Differences of opinion amongst councillors are a normal and healthy part of the decision-making process. To ensure that a thorough and fair process has been followed before reaching a final decision, councillors are expected to listen to and respect other’s opinions on the issue, to review all administrative research, advice and options, as well as any policy and budgetary consequences, before voting on the matter. The final decision might not be one that the individual councillor personally agrees with, and may even have opposed it. It is important to emphasize that once the final decision is passed by a motion at a regular session of council, all members of council must accept the position taken. 

h. Other functions 

-From time to time, councillors will be assigned other duties. This may range from sitting on specific committees to representing the community at a particular function where the mayor or deputy mayor is unable to attend. Councillors also have a legislated obligation to participate in any other body to which he or she has been appointed by the council. Municipalities Act: 36(2.1)(d)

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