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Getting to know our Town of Fort Erie Advisory Committees: The Bridges of the Community

Christine Whelan FEO, July 4, 2024, VOL. 5 ISSUE 22

Municipal councils establish boards and committees to enable citizens to become involved in grassroots service areas which are fundamental to the enhancement of the community such as libraries, museums, youth, seniors, history, business districts, the environment and beautification, to name just a few.

Getting to know our town’s advisory committees helps us understand the structure, organization and coordination of the Greater Fort Erie area — our community.

Getting to know the different committees, also helps us to know who to turn to for assistance when needed. The right committee can be the bridge between ourselves and those who can help.

And finally, understanding the different committees presents us with possible opportunities. Is there an idea of the community you are drawn to get involved in, to find a connection with, and to help make a difference?

Responsibilities of Committee Members

 According to the Town of Fort Erie Advisory Committee Handbook which is readily available to anyone on the Town’s website, there are set responsibilities listed so that a committee member would know what to expect and what would be expected of them.

Each member is to familiarize themselves with the Terms of Reference of the committee and understand the committee’s advisory relationship to Council. They must strive to attend all scheduled meetings, come prepared, actively participate in discussion and decision-making, and be ready to take on any work assigned in between sessions.

They must be open-minded and allow for a variety of opinions to be heard, have respect for the individual worth and dignity of other committee members and staff, and maintain a high degree of professionalism.

To extend that state of professionalism, a committee member would need to identify any items of pecuniary interest before they are discussed and refrain from discussing and voting on the same, as well as maintain confidentiality when necessary.

When speaking publicly as a member of the committee, with the permission of the Chair, that member must represent the views of the committee and not personal views.

Committees generally meet once a month, more frequently when necessary.

Every committee includes a Council member appointee who has all of the rights and privileges of any other member.

In most cases, a staff liaison is assigned to a committee to provide guidance, and general advice, prepare the minutes of the meetings, and any necessary reports for Council’s consideration.

Fort Erie Advisory Committees

The Town of Fort Erie website provides information about these committees:

Accessibility Advisory Committee provides advice to Council on a wide range of municipal processes to help make public services and facilities accessible to everyone.

Affordable Housing Advisory Committee provides advice to Council regarding housing affordability and attainability in the Town of Fort Erie

Committee of Adjustment operates independently of Council as a statutory body to consider applications for minor variances from the Town’s Zoning By-law and to consider applications for consent, consent cancellation, validation of title, easements and extension or enlargement of legal non-conforming uses.

Community Gaming Development Corporation manages and administers the Charitable Gaming Policy on behalf of Council and continuously improves the efficiency of the administration of Lotteries within the Town by providing advice and support services to or in respect of volunteers, internal management and operational and administrative programs relating to Charitable Gaming.

Community Health Care Services Committee meets regularly to discuss health care and hospital services in Fort Erie and has representation from Regional Public Health, Niagara Health, primary care physicians, Bridges CHC, the Indigenous community, the Council and the Town’s Health Care Coordinator.

Environmental Advisory Committee advises and assists the Planning and Development Services Department (the Department) with the management and conservation of the natural environment in Fort Erie.

Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee represents the youth of Greater Fort Erie. MYAC strives to engage and enable youth to discuss the issues that affect them now, as well as the issues that may affect them in the near future in Fort Erie. The members of MYAC are focused on creating change and getting voices heard.

Museum and Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee actively promotes cultural heritage and conservation by recognizing the non-renewable nature of cultural heritage resources and the contribution they make to the character, civic pride, tourism potential, economic benefits, and historical appreciation of the community.

Niagara Transit Commission Public Advisory Committee supports the commission to provide an affordable, accessible, reliable, safe and convenient transit system while meeting customers’ expectations. The committee members give their perspectives and input to the commission on various transit services in the Niagara Region. They discuss service levels, policies, and programs to create awareness and implementation of legislation. They will also address the issues and concerns of public transit users.

Property Standards Committee operates as a statutory body to hear appeals against orders issued under the Town of Fort Erie’s Property Standards By-law, as amended or replaced from time to time.

Senior Citizens Advisory Committee assists seniors by promoting active and healthy living, social engagement and learning by providing them with activities and services.

In the next several weeks, I will focus on a committee or two for each edition of the Fort Erie Observer, highlighting their past accomplishments, current activities and future goals, and a closer look at what makes this community tick.

As written in the Town of Fort Erie website, “Volunteer involvement fosters civic responsibility, participation and interaction. It strengthens communities by promoting change and development and identifying community needs. A commitment to community participation and service is one of the pillars of strength of the Town of Fort Erie.”

For information on Town Boards and Advisory Committees, go to forterie.ca and locate ‘Town Hall’ and ‘Boards and Committees’ in the dropdown menu.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact the Clerk’s Office by phone 905-871-1600, ext. 2212 or email acarter@forterie.ca

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