Today Regional Council discussed the thought of a smaller sized Council. I have to say it was one of the best sessions of deliberation we have had in a while. The Boundary Review Committee recommended Council be reduced to 20 on really no basis except for the “pressure” to do so.
At the public meeting held in Halifax Hall this Spring, the residents in attendence from District 12 stated they didn’t want a change in the number of Council but a change in the way we do business aka governance.
Governance is the activity of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists either of a separate process or of a specific part of management or leadership processes. Sometimes people set up a government to administer these processes and systems.
In the case of a business or of a non-profit organisation, governance relates to consistent management, cohesive policies, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility. For example, managing at a corporate level might involve evolving policies on privacy, on internal investment, and on the use of data.
In terms of distinguishing the term governance from government – “governance” is what a “government” does. It might be a geo-political government (nation-state), a corporate government (business entity), a socio-political government (tribe, family, etc.), or any number of different kinds of government. But governance is the kinetic exercise of management power and policy, while government is the instrument (usually, collective) that does it. The term government is also used more abstractly as a synonym for governance, as in the Canadian motto, “Peace, Order and Good Government”.
That quote describes the action of governance. What needs to be changed with respect to Halifax Regional Council? First of all the Hayward Report, which was the blueprint for amalgamation, really wasn’t that great. It laid out a basic structure for which HRM would use to govern but failed in suggesting improvements to the newly formed municipality or “Frankenstein”as I call it.
The needed changes are to the governing structure. We have urban, suburban, and rural areas each unique and deserve to have their local issues dealt with by the individuals elected to serve their area. This is one of the recommendations passed this evening.
HRM already has many of the required legislative powers but never envoked them, HRM Charter will need to be ammended for some of the recommendations such as the ability to envoke local area rates for capital work such as sidewalks.
As I stated at Council, the problem isn’t with the size of Council but with the lack of ability to administer or govern in an effective manner. Democracy is not to be swift. It is supposed to encourage discussion and thought.
Enough for now… bed is calling