Cape Breton Post
CBRM struggles to fill diversity committee
Lack of applications ‘an anomaly'
SYDNEY — Diversity committee: Anyone? Anyone?
Finding citizen representatives to fill two positions on a 12-person diversity committee is proving to be a challenge for a municipal nominating committee.
In a June 18 memo to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's six-member committee, municipal clerk Deborah Campbell-Ryan wrote that there have been three attempts to seek out individuals to fill the positions. One would come from Cape Breton University, while the second would be from the Cape Breton-Victoria Centre for Education, the memo read.
Dist. 7 Coun. Steve Parsons “did contact CBVRCE and there was one name submitted by them. The clerk's office did contact that individual requesting a formal application be submitted; however, none was received,” the memo said.
“Further, (CBRM Mayor Amanda) McDougall was in contact with the student union at Cape Breton University and they indicated that a name would be put forward to represent CBU on this committee; however, no applications were received.”
Interested committee members had until June 7 to submit applications.
During the nominating committee's virtual meeting Wednesday, Campbell-Ryan suggested reaching out to CBU and centre for education for a fourth go, advertising via social media only, and that both the university and school board “be contacted directly requesting volunteer representatives for a two-year term.”
But Dist. 4 Coun. Steve Gillespie wondered if that avenue had been exhausted. “Are we beating a dead horse here?” Gillespie asked, noting that he had contacted the office of CBU president David Dingwall, as well the students union's incoming president, Madlyn O'Brien. “If there is no want or desire to be part of this committee, how many times do we have to go back to the well?”
Campbell-Ryan considered this lack of applications for the diversity committee “an anomaly. We don't usually go out this many times.”
Gillespie also expressed concern that “if we have to go out and twist somebody's arm, to coin a phrase, and ask them to be on the committee, and they agree, how many times are they going to show up? Are we really going to have their commitment?”
McDougall suggested that because of the difficulty experienced in recruiting these representatives, “perhaps there could be a change” in the diversity committee's articles of association.
“We've had some success with citizens at large (in the past),” she said. “And I know the intent of having folks represent different organizations and expertise in the community is really good and valuable, but if it causes this much difficulty in getting members...”
The nominating committee decided to accept CampbellRyan's recruitment recommendation from Wednesday.
The diversity committee comprises community representatives that include Indigenous, LGBTQ+, persons with disabilities, immigrants to the CBRM, educators and women.
Meanwhile, the nominating committee had an easier time selecting the three applicants to represent the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority Board.
In seeking interested persons to sit on the Port of Sydney Development Corporation Board, committee members found one applicant with business and commerce experience, but were split on another with marketing expertise — leaving it to deputy chief administrative officer John MacKinnon to draw a number from a cup to decide the winner.
Campbell-Ryan also mentioned she received a late entrant to represent the port board, one with a professional engineering designation. The committee recommended that the potential candidate be contacted and, if that person isn't interested, then go to social media or through Engineers Nova Scotia for recruitment.