The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce has voiced its opinion about Courtenay council’s recent motion regarding conference attendance for elected officials.
The topic of Courtenay councillors attending conferences or conventions — such as those for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities — has been a hot one of late, with letters to the editor speaking for and against spending tax dollars to send councillors to conferences.
Courtenay council approved a Coun. Jon Ambler motion earlier this month that “Courtenay council continue to send any council member that is willing and able to participate to all such conferences.”
Mayor Larry Jangula opposed the motion.
Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Dianne Hawkins says the Chamber sees the value in councillors attending conferences.
“They are better prepared to support their constituents and to get ideas from other municipalities, etcetera, so we see the value,” says Hawkins, noting the Chamber, too, chooses sends some delegates to professional development conferences.
She also says the Chamber asks that council consider some sort of reporting-back process for after councillors attend a conference, though she specifies the Chamber doesn’t suggest this in a penalizing way.
“It’s much the same as if you or I went to a conference and came back and provided a report to our board or to our superiors to say, ‘These are the workshops that I attended and this is the value that I perceived in attending the workshop,'” explains Hawkins. “Just a way to kind of update or report back to the community as a whole … perhaps reporting back is a way to keep the community apprised of things that are learnt.”
A news release from the Chamber also asks that Courtenay council “look to fiscal fiduciary responsibility and focus on conferences which are pertinent to the committees represented by elected officials.” Plus, the Chamber recommends Courtenay “develop policies and process for determining who, and what conferences are attended by officials.”
She adds the Chamber decided to take a stance on the issue after some people in the local business community questioned how it felt about the matter.