Augusta Township Council creates an Agriculture and Rural Affairs (ARC) Committee and a Community Development Committee

Augusta Township Council creates an Agriculture and Rural Affairs (ARC) Committee and a Community Development Committee

Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka

(As published in the South Grenville Journal – Wednesday, July 29, 2020)

At the July 27, 2020 Council meeting, Council agreed to replace its Planning Advisory Committee with an Agriculture and Rural Affairs (ARC) Committee of Council.  This fulfills a promise that I made during the last election campaign in recognition of the importance of agriculture in the Municipality.  The terms of reference for the new ARC takes its lead from an Ontario Federation of Agriculture publication entitled, A Guide for Municipal Councillors and Staff.  According to the OFA Guide: farmers are facing greater challenges in influencing local decision‑making as an increasing number of citizens have a limited understanding of agriculture; farmers are a minority in a municipality and their voices may not be heard; farmers are an integral part of our local economy, environmental sustainability and ability to feed ourselves and their views are essential to ensure farms remain viable and financially sustainable. The subjects for review by the ARC include: land use planning and economic development; environment and animal welfare; energy; infrastructure and social services; and policy and program matters put before the ARC by Staff and the Chair of the Committee who is Councillor Samantha Schapelhouman.  ARC will meet monthly and at the call of the Chair and will likely include from 5 to 9 members who will be appointed by Council. There is also a possibility that subcommittees may be needed.  Anyone wishing to be considered for membership on the Committee should call the Township office or refer to the Township website for information on how to apply.  The scope for ARC is admittedly broad and its goals ambitious. For this reason, Council agreed through consensus that it may be necessary to review the terms of reference for the Committee after a period of its operation to ensure its ongoing success.

During the same Council meeting, Council approved the formation of a new Committee entitled, Community Development Committee (CDC) which will be chaired by Councillor Tanya Henry.  The CDC will essentially look at community improvement and quality of life goals for the municipality.  The CDC mandate authorizes the committee to explore and document relevant community issues and trends and to consult with community partners for developing programs and initiatives for consideration of Council and respective partners to enhance, promote and encourage community development and the continuous improvement of services provided by the Township. More information can be obtained from the Municipal Office or Municipal website for any resident interested in participating in the work of this new Committee.

Finally, Council dissolved its Operations & Waste Management Committee as the operational updates are now being directly provided at Council meetings by the Manager of Public Works, Brad Thake and its other initiatives, such as Pitch In, will be achieved by the new Community Development Committee.

Augusta Township staff and Council are committed to excellence and continuous improvement of service to residents and are hopeful that the reorganization of Committees will prove to be a step in the right direction.