North Saanich’s heritage advisory commission is being left to languish with only two active members and no plans by the district to seek out enough people for it to be able to meet.
At the district’s committee of the whole meeting Jan. 28, council approved a plan to advertise for additional parks advisory committee members — a group that has room for up to three more people but which already has six. A motion to do the same for the heritage commission, however, was defeated in a 4-3 council split.
There was also talk of eventually merging the two groups if enough people could not be found.
“I think it’s important we do keep the heritage advisory commission,” said Councillor Elsie McMurphy, noting a recent historical plaque presentation to the St. John’s United Church.
“It’s a unique role in the community,” she continued. “We need to value our heritage and we need people who want to serve.”
McMurphy said she wondered why the majority of council seemed to have the knives out for the heritage commission, adding there were people who did apply to be on the commission and were rejected. She called on those people to be re-evaluated.
Mayor Alice Finall noted that applications for district commissions ebb and flow over the years and suggested advertising a second time for potential members, as is the district’s standard practice in such cases, might solve the shortage.
“I understand the reasons for keeping (the heritage commission),” said Coun. Craig Mearns, “but I also see a lack of interest right now.”
He suggested the parks and the heritage commissions be combined, as did Coun. Dunstan Browne.
“In my two years on council, I don’t recall much out of the heritage commission,” Browne said. “I feel they should be combined.”
He added he does have any “knives out” for the heritage commission, and added the group just doesn’t seem to be getting any interest from the community.
McMurphy’s request to re-advertise for the heritage commission was defeated.
Coun. Ted Daly moved that the district advertise for the parks commission alone, which received unanimous consent.
The heritage commission currently has only two members and needs three to have a quorum. As such, staff reported to council that the heritage commission cannot function.
The term of the two remaining members expires in January, 2014.
In September, 2012, district staff recommended that the commission be combined with the parks group after both commissions met to discuss the matter back in August.