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Expert panels given $50,000 each

BY JASON THOMPSON City council's support of Mayor John Rodriguez's idea to create expert panels to examine specific municipal issues was unanimous. Giving three of the five panels a cheque for $50,000, however, was not.


City council's support of Mayor John Rodriguez's idea to create expert panels to examine specific municipal issues was unanimous.

Giving three of the five panels a cheque for $50,000, however, was not.

In his inaugural address, Rodriguez pledged within 100 days, and with council's support, to create expert panels to study and provide advice on specific priorities for the city.

At Wednesday's city council meeting, the panels were unveiled, including the 40 community members who will volunteer their time and the terms of reference. The panels will expire when council does in 2010.

The three panels with a $50,000 budget will look at municipal mining revenues and building a performing arts centre and a recreational complex.

The fourth will study health care cluster development while the fifth will provide direction and financial oversight for the performing arts centre and recreational complex.

Although they were in full support of the panels, Ward 6 Councillor Andre Rivest and Ward 10 Councillor Frances Caldarelli voted against the resolution. The pair argued the panels should compete for funding during the budget process like every other special interest group in the city.

"We're going to be so tight with the budget. I would just like to have seen that money wait until the budget process. We should put it in a priority list. Maybe we can't give them $50,000 for each committee, maybe we can only give them $25,000," Caldarelli said.

Rodriguez assured them any leftover money would be returned to the city's coffers. He said there would also be opportunity for the public to provide input.

"That's why they have budgets, so they can set up meetings and receive information and opinions from the public."

When the panel members were selected, Rodriguez said he consulted with councillors and people in the community as to who should be appointed, while some people stepped forward and volunteered their services.

The creation of the panels means Rodriguez can cross off a few more items from his 100-day to-do list. He has already reduced the number of Greater Sudbury Utilities board members. Eliminating trans cab fares in Greater Sudbury, another one of his pledges, was discussed at Thursday's budget session.

Here's a look at panels and their members:

- Performing Arts Centre Advisory Panel will be chaired by local businesswoman Diane Salo, and vice-chaired by Ward 9 Councillor Doug Craig and Ward 12 Councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann. Members include Steve Irwin, Don Kuyek, Dennis Castellan, Daniel Gingras, David Kilgour, Lyn Lebeau, Stig Puschel, Bela Ravi, Susan Silverton, Kevin Shaganash and Kerri Jones.

- Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues will be chaired by former Inco executive Jose Blanco and will be vice-chaired by Ward 1 Councillor Joe Cimino and Ward 4 Councillor Evelyn Dutrisac. Members include Sylvia Barnard, Floyd Laughren, Cathy Modesto, Ron Mulholland, Dana Matson, Ryan Minor, Leo Gerard, Andre Dumais and Denis Hubert.

- Recreational Complex Advisory Panel is chaired by Cory McPhee of CVRD Inco. Vice-chairs are Ward 2 Councillor Jacques Barbeau and Ward 5 Councillor Ron Dupuis. The members are John Arnold, Anne Cryderman, Lisa Kivinen, David Farrow, Dr. Darren Stinson, Peter Hellstrom, Carla Lacelle and Lionel Courtemanche.

- Expert Panel on Health Cluster Development will be chaired by former Mayor Jim Gordon. Ward 8 Councillor Ted Callaghan will serve as vice-chair. Members include Guy Labine, Joe Pilon, Nancy Young, Anne Marie Mawhiney, Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, Liette Vasseur, Dan Draper, Karen Pappin and Laurie Rancourt.

- Community Facility Liaison Advisory Panel will be chaired by Rodriguez. Its members will be the chairs from a number of municipal committees, including the Priorities Committee, Planning Committee, Finance Committee, Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, Community Economic Development Centre, Performing Arts Centre Advisory Panel and Recreational Complex Advisory Panel.