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Brantford Council to disband Vision Zero Road Safety Committee 

City of BrantfordBrantford Council to disband Vision Zero Road Safety Committee 

City of Brantford Council voted to disband the Vision Zero Road Safety Committee during their Committee of the Whole, Planning and Administration meeting on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.  

During the March 21, 2024, Committee Review Task Force meeting, Staff were recommended to investigate consolidating committees, review mandates and compositions of the various committees, and to develop and facilitate a comprehensive training plan for all stakeholders.

“The recommendations will allow staff to complete a detailed review of numerous committees and task forces to ensure they are operating efficiently and providing meaningful work for the City of Brantford,” read the recommendation.

Tuesday’s decision comes after the findings of the Committee Review Task Force report came forward to be received during the meeting.

As part of the recommendation, the Environmental and Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (ESPAC), Southwest Task Force, and the Vision Zero Road Safety Committee were all on the table to be disbanded.

While the council ultimately decided that ESPAC should be further reviewed, consolidated and kept, the road safety committee was preliminarily disbanded, despite efforts from Councillor Richard Carpenter.

“The Vision Zero Road Safety Committee, where would that volume of work go and how would council members get the information forward about road safety issues within their wards and make sure it’s addressed?” he asked.

Mark Jacklyn, Director of Operational Services for the City of Brantford said that the councillors will still be able to through Staff for any neighbourhood issues, and that any other reports that would typically go through the Vision Zero committee one, I’ll just go straight to the Committee, the Whole, Operations and Administration.

Carpenter asked where the funding that has been allocated to the committee would go, and Jacklyn said it would still go through Vision Zero initiatives as there is still a master plan.

“I’ve got some concerns with us limiting this committee. I spent almost five years just getting a speed bump on one street in my ward and the only way we got that was because we kept bringing it forward and planning it with Vision Zero and we got some of this stuff done,” said Carpenter. “Vision Zero was pretty open and broad, the discussion was public, meetings were recorded, and with work within the wards, every member of council was represented on that committee. I’m just afraid if it disappears, we’ll find some wards will be getting representation and others won’t.”

Councillor Rose Sicoli said that she’s been on several committees and task forces through the years and that sometimes, they are just no longer needed.

“I’m of the opinion that when a committee exists past the point of having a very clear and quantifiable, objective and mandate, that it actually has an adverse effect on our volunteerism,” she said. “It quite often leads to volunteers feeling unhelpful and that’s where we start to get quorum issues.

Mayor Kevin Davis said he was pleased to see the report findings and that the recommendations will help to streamline committee processes, but also make sure that they are allocating both citizen time and staff’s time in a way that’s most efficient and most effective.

He said that committees and task forces are created to focus on particular issues that frequently pop up and that it’s because of all of the work that the Vision Zero Road Safety Committee has accomplished, that there is less of a need for it.

“The committee was intended to be a catalyst to improve road safety. Back five years ago, it was necessary that there be a subcommittee or a task force to really focus the attention and resources of the City on these particular issues,” he said. “To me, it makes sense now that the original intent behind the Vision Zero Road Safety Committee has been accomplished in the sense that that’s been incorporated in the City’s day-to-day business.”

Later, Carpenter moved an amendment to add the committee into the list of those that will be reviewed and streamlined.

He said that leaving it up to ward councillors to handle certain issues, may not work in the long run.

“I don’t believe all the wards are being treated equally, at least I don’t feel like ward four is being treated the same. I’m trying to get things done and that seems to be more difficult for ward four for some reason,” he said. “At least if it’s on the Vision Zero Committee, then it’s on the agenda. If my residents say, ‘I’d like this street reviewed,’ I can have it come through Vision Zero and I will know it’s been reviewed, and they [residents] can see in the agenda that something’s actually happening.”

Sicoli said that she would not be supporting the amendment as issues that go through the committee can take longer than just bringing it forward to the Committee of the Whole.

“I think we have used Vision Zero and we’ve squeezed every ounce of its mandate out of it. We all have a flow as far as traffic calming measures are concerned and we can just sort of skip that step now and get things done just a little bit faster,” she said. “I know the residents are not really thrilled with the bureaucratic red tape that they frequently have to jump through, and this was just one extra step, so I’m not going to be supporting this based on that.”

Brian Van Tilborg disagreed that councillors could be the end all, be all of traffic issues and road safety.

“I’m also of the opinion that all the aspects of what Vision Zero could bring, in creating a safer road environment from policy positions, has been done. What I don’t believe is that somehow, a councillor can automatically be the end all be all of road safety, that’s just a fallacy. We can give our inputs, but sometimes those inputs are political, often those inputs are rushed, and they do not take in to account all of the citizens in the street or area or corridor. Our staff does do that,” he said. “I don’t believe that Vision Zero actually held up anything, in fact, it moved forward many things we wouldn’t today. The process that’s before us should have an aspect where our professional staff have time to go over everything, and that the residents in the areas in the streets have time to see everything. … I don’t think that we’re actually delaying things by allowing staff to go over it. In fact, I would like to see something that if Vision Zero is brought down, our staff have had the opportunity to sign off and look at changes that councillors want to make on behalf of residents.”

The amendment was then defeated on a vote of 8-2 with councillors Carpenter and Mandy Samwell voting in favour, noting that Councillor Linda Hunt was not present for the meeting.

Carpenter then moved to have a separate vote to disband the committee in question, and it was passed on a vote of 7-3 noting that Carpenter, Samwell and Van Tilborg voted against it.

The final decision will come to Council for final approval on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

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