Colwood council has deferred a decision on whether or not to conduct preliminary consultation work on a potential volunteer program until after the municipal election this fall.
At a meeting on June 13, Coun. Cynthia Day made a motion to delay the decision until after the new council has been sworn in. The motion passed with only two dissenting votes.
Staff made the recommendation that council direct staff to hire a consultant to undertake the first five steps of the plan to create the program, which the city developed in partnership with Volunteer Victoria. Those five steps a consultant would have been tasked with include documenting priorities for the program, identifying potential partners, reviewing existing policies, identifying volunteer assignments, and developing guidelines and tools.
In making her motion, Day said that while she thinks it is a good idea for the city to be working to improve its volunteer structure, she ultimately feels proceeding with an entirely new program which would include the hiring of a new staff member is not appropriate so close to an election.
After a consultant has completed the first five steps of the program’s implementation plan, the next step would be to hire a full-time volunteer coordinator to run the program, which is estimated to cost around $91,500 annually. The consultant work was estimated to have a one-time cost of $10,000.
The proposed volunteer program comes out of a need identified in council’s 2018 strategic plan to increase the capacity of the city and its partner organizations to support the many residents who wish to volunteer their time for city programming, events, and services. According to the report presented to council, Colwood saw a 26 per cent increase in the number of residents interested in volunteering between 2020 and 2021.
The areas of volunteer interest with the highest year-to-year growth also align with the city’s strategic goals, including opportunities related to heritage, mental health, learning, and the environment.
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