An ad hoc committee created by Hawkesbury council to discuss the future functions of the town’s Recreation and Tourism Department was abolished before it ever held a meeting.

Most of the department’s activities have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its largest facility, the Robert Hartley Sports Complex, remains closed.

In June, council dismissed the Director of Recreation and Tourism, and eliminated two other positions within the department.

On June 29, council had decided to create the committee as a way of supporting council on its future decisions about how the department will operate.

After the June 29 decision, Mayor Paula Assaly circulated among all councillors a draft document of a suggested mandate and terms of reference for the ad hoc committee.

At a special meeting of council held on July 9, Councillor Robert Lefebvre said that when the original decision to establish the committee was made, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) was to be part of it.  CAO Daniel Gatien has since gone on leave.  Lefebvre said that without the CAO present, the committee would be lacking the directional support it requires.

On July 9, council also discussed, in closed session, how various municipal services would be managed in the CAO’s absence.

Lefebvre also suggested that establishing the committee could violate the town’s own procedural by-law.

He also noted that council created a Committee of the Whole earlier this year so councillors could discuss certain issues in greater detail at those meetings.

Assaly emphasized that the committee would not have any power and that the document circulated was only a draft and that an amendment could be made.  She added that the discussions of the ad hoc committee on the recreation and tourism department would in turn be discussed by the Committee of the Whole.

Lefebvre said he would prefer keeping discussions limited to Committee of the Whole and regular council meetings and emphasized the need for council and staff to work as a team.  He said he would rather that the issue was discussed in the context of how municipal operations will function in the absence of the CAO.

“I’m highly in agreement with Mr. Lefebvre,” commented Councillor Yves Paquette.

He said that clear communication is needed when issues are being discussed.

Assaly again emphasized that the document was only draft of a template for how the committee could operate.

“We made it strictly a draft,” she said.

Council decided to instead discuss the issue within the context of how departments will function in the absence of the CAO and chose to abolish the ad hoc committee on recreation and tourism.