The Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) was established by City Council through resolution (rather than bylaw) as a Council committee in 2010. Operating under a terms of reference approved by Council, EDAC was intended to provide recommendations and advice to Council and Administration on the development and implementation of the 2010 economic development strategy as well as provide general encouragement of business and economic development in Spruce Grove.
Upon review of the statutory requirements of a council committee, Administration identified inconsistencies in the establishment and operation of EDAC whereby it has been operating more as a hybrid between a council committee and administrative advisory committee.
The issue was discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting on May 19th, 2020. These discussions indicated support for retaining EDAC as a council committee subject to making the changes necessary to bring it into conformity with the MGA. EDAC has served as an effective sounding board in bringing forward economic and business development issues and initiatives. The advice provided was incorporated into the economic development strategy and corporate initiatives. Council had three members on EDAC which provided a first-hand opportunity to engage with business stakeholders. The members were selected based on their understanding of the business community and the specific expertise they could contribute.
EDAC is best described as more of a business council rather than a public advisory committee. The changes to the mandate and governance of EDAC as proposed in the bylaw do not contemplate a change in this role.
Required Changes Proposed in the Bylaw
EDAC will be officially established by a bylaw that sets out its mandate, composition, and procedures. Major changes from existing practice include:
1. Meetings will be open to the public and will be subject to Closed Session requirements under the Municipal Government Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
2. The committee will be required to provide an annual work plan for Council approval and an annual report to Council regarding the committee’s activities and progress;
3. Committee recommendations will be brought forward to Council rather than through Administration. Council may elect to send the recommendations to Administration for review and report back on possible impacts. The development and presentation of recommendations will be done by the committee;
4. Administration will provide support to the committee but limited to preparation of minutes and agenda and general procedural guidance.
Other Changes Proposed in the Bylaw
EDAC currently consists of nine (9) members including three (3) City Councillors. This bylaw would bring the size of the committee up to eleven (11) members as follows:
(a) up to three (3) Councillors;
(b) one (1) member to be nominated by the Greater Parkland Regional Chamber of Commerce from their Board;
(c) one (1) member to be nominated by the City Centre Business Association from their Board;
(d) up to four (4) members to be nominated by Administration and approved by Council to represent industrial and commercial stakeholders;
(e) two (2) public-at-large members to be recruited through a public application process who must be residents of Spruce Grove.
Non-council members will be appointed for a term of three (3) years and can be renewed for an additional term of three (3) years at the pleasure of Council. For the initial appointments only and in order to ensure continuity, it is recommended that those existing EDAC members wishing to continue be appointed for a term of two (2) years. Members of Council have served as both Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of EDAC and this has worked well. It is recommended that this practice continues.
Amendments Proposed at July 20, 2020 Council Meeting
During the July 20, 2020 Council Meeting, feedback was provided and several changes to the bylaw were requested for third reading. The proposed amendments include the following:
1. Section 4.1(b) Membership: Preference be given by the Greater Parkland Regional Chamber of Commerce to a resident of or business owner in Spruce Grove in selecting a nominee for membership on EDAC;
2. Section 5.2 Procedure: A clause was added stating that meetings would be held on a quarterly basis;
3. Section 5.7 Procedure: Clarification was added that a tie vote shall constitute defeat of any motion considered by EDAC;
4. Section 5.11 Procedure: Clarification was added that it is not required for the Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson to be a member of any sub-committee of EDAC.