INNISFAIL – With the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 having ended its transportation agreement with the town last spring town council has been asked by administration whether its still worth keeping the local Transportation Standing Committee.
For now, that answer has been put on hold but council members offered varying opinions on the committee’s (TSC) future at council’s Agenda & Priorities Meeting on Sept. 5.
Several councillors want the committee dissolved but some, including Mayor Jean Barclay, say transportation remains an important local issue and the committee, even if it takes drafting a new terms of reference, should stay.
Meghan Jenkins, director of community services for the Town of Innisfail, presented a report to council on Sept. 5 that asked for feedback on whether the TSC is still needed for the community.
The TSC was created in 2015 when it was tasked to oversee local transit issues that were initially governed by a bus policy from 2006 when the first agreements between the town and Legion were made following the purchase of a community coach bus.
Jenkins’ report to council noted the committee’s specific purpose was to provide guidance and recommendations to council and administration to ensure transportation options provided by the town and the Legion were sustainable and meeting the needs of the residents.
With the termination of the Legion’s transportation agreement with the town, it no longer operates the PACE transportation service, and administration recommended the committee be dissolved.
Jenkins pointed out in her report that if community input is desired for transportation issues that process could be handled by the Community Services Standing Committee (CSSC), which is currently involved in several other community service areas, such as recreation and culture facilities, community parks and trails, social and recreational programming, cultural activities and events, and community beautification initiatives.
For the town to move to CSSC on future transportation issues Jenkins proposed drafting a new Council Procedure Bylaw to remove the TSC, and update CSSC’s terms of reference in a separate bylaw.
While there was some support on council to dissolve the TSC Barclay was opposed as she felt transportation in the community remains a priority; specifically noting there has been recent “big changes.”
Last spring the town began its agreement with Red Deer-based Prairie Bus lines to provide the community with its new modern on-demand transit service.
“I think working with neighbouring communities and looking at regional transit and how we get people around, I think it (transportation) is going to become more and more and more important, especially if we want to grow this community,” said Barclay, adding the CSSC already has a heavy workload. “I think there's a real need for the transportation committee.”
Barclay added that feedback about other town committees, particularly ones that rarely meet and others where council has no vote, would have value before council’s organizational meeting next month when council representatives are chosen for local committees.
Council accepted Jenkins’ report as information.
In the meantime, Jenkins said administration will bring back a report to council, likely in October, with recommendations on the best way to determine the future of the TSC.
“The direction from council is to have further discussion on all of their current committees and committee appointments,” said Jenkins in a later interview with the Albertan. “And as part of their strategic planning that will determine whether they feel the transportation committee needs to be reworked.
“But do we still need a transportation committee to provide input to council on issues regarding transportation? Or is that a function that one of our other committees could take on?”