No citizen commissioners on Ottawa’s transit commission this term, report recommends

For the first time in more than a decade, there will be no citizen representatives on Ottawa’s transit commission this council term.

The recommendation is set out in a new report on the committee setup at Ottawa City Hall.

The 2022-2026 Council Governance Review, outlining the governance structure and related processes for the new term, includes a recommendation that the transit commission only be composed of elected officials.

That’s a change from the past three council terms, which saw non-councillors appointed to the commission by council. There were four citizen transit commissioners during the 2018-2022 term.

Instead of citizen commissioners, staff will begin the process to set up a transit advisory board composed of members of the public, and at least one user of Para Transpo.

“During consultation for the 2022-2026 Governance Review, most Members of Council expressed the view that all Commissioners should be Members of Council, as the elected officials are directly accountable to residents rather than to Council,” the report states.

City Clerk Rick O’Connor worked with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe to finalize the recommendations for the governance structure.

“For the 2022-2026 Term of Council, the Mayor recommends that the Transit Commission be composed entirely of elected officials, and that citizen input on transit matters be received through the establishment of a new transit advisory body that includes public members, as described below,” the report states.

“The Commission would be composed of Members of Council, as approved by Council, with the Mayor as an ex officio member.”

The report states the proposed new transit advisory body would provide advice, informed by user experience, to the transit commission and council on public transit.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Sutcliffe was asked about having no citizen representatives on the transit commission

“City councillors are the elected representatives of the public; they’re there to represent the public’s interest and so I’m confident that the city councillors that sit on the transit commission going forward will represent the interests of the public just as they do on every other city committee deals with important matters,” Sutcliffe said.

The 2010-14 Governance Review proposed the establishment of a Transit Commission with members of council and the public to oversee transit operations.  Four citizens were first appointed to the commission in March 2011.

Other proposes changes to the committee structure include separating the community and protective services committee into separate committees: the community services committee responsible for the “community services” mandate, while the emergency preparedness and protective services committee responsible for “emergency and protective services”, along with emergency management, by-law reviews, and Ottawa Paramedic Service issues added to the workload. The work of the former IT sub-committee will fall under the mandate of the finance and economic development committee.

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