Sandy Casselman 
Villager Staff

EMBRUN – While there are plenty of opportunities for residents in the township of Russell to get involved in their community, the most obvious way, and the one that appears to ensure the greatest opportunity for input, is joining one of the municipality’s several committees.

As with Russell’s council meetings, the committee assemblies are open to the public with both the agenda and the link to the virtual meeting available on the township’s website. Currently, Russell has an Accessibility Advisory Committee, a Community, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, an Environmental Advisory Committee, a Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, a Planning Advisory Committee and Committee of Adjustment, and a Public Library Board. Just prior to the pandemic, a Seniors Advisory Committee and a Teen Advisory Committee were created but have yet to get underway.

“These committees are a sounding board for the public and should be seen as such,” Mayor Pierre Leroux said. “If residents have ideas, concerns, etc., they should feel free to contact members of the committee and engage. That is my wish, to see more public engagement from our committees.”

The purpose of the committees is to provide a public forum for residents to have input and, in consequence, to submit recommendations to council. A vocal supporter of public engagement and the potential of the committees to bring the community together, Leroux said there is room for improvements to be made. 

Aside from the two recently created and not-yet-functioning committees, the Community, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee is the newest, having been created and started in 2020. While some are legislated to exist, others have been created to address specific concerns. Each committee has one or more council representative at the table.

For those residents looking to join a committee, the process appears simple. Leroux said any resident can apply to be a committee member. Applications are generally received at the beginning of the new council’s term. The mayor reviews the applications and makes recommendations to council, who then vote as a group on who will make up the membership for each committee. Should spaces become available mid-term, they are posted, and the same application process is used, Leroux said.

Successful applicants generally commit to a four-year term that follows the municipal elections timeline. Leroux said he expects the two not-yet-started committees, the Seniors Advisory Committee, and the Teen Advisory Committee, will not get underway until 2023, shortly after the new council term begins.

To learn more, visit the township’s website (calendar.russell.ca), where agendas, minutes, and meeting dates are available. Meetings on the horizon include the Environmental Advisory Committee (Aug. 11), the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (Aug. 16), and the Planning Advisory Committee and Committee of Adjustment (Aug. 30).

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