Smarter Niagara Steering Committee - Terms of Reference

Overview · Agenda/Minutes ·Terms of Reference

Table of Contents

Preamble

Niagara has a rich urban and rural fabric that requires the protection and enhancement of carefully coordinated public policy. Protecting the natural environment, compact walkable communities, vibrant city centres, and efficient and wise use of infrastructure are a result of policies and development practices that are fundamental to the rich urban and rural fabric in Niagara – now and into the future.

The Smarter Niagara Steering Committee will provide recommendations on cross-disciplinary urban strategies and policies. The objective is to create, improve, enhance, and protect the built and natural environment, in turn enriching the public realm and the social, mental, and physical well-being of the people of Niagara.

The hoped for policy result is town centres restored to healthy and viable commercial, residential, and public spaces; distinct, diverse and walkable neighbourhoods each with a sense of place served by public and active transportation, and; an overriding respect for the natural environment, rural areas, and our built heritage legacy.

The committee shall also conduct or participate in research and coordinated community education efforts through print, digital media, and conferences.

Mandate

The core mandate is to provide input to staff and Regional Council on cross-disciplinary urban strategies and policies that create, improve, enhance, and protect the built and natural environment, in turn enriching the social, mental, and physical well-being of the people of Niagara.

The committee shall also conduct or participate in research, and recommend coordinated community education efforts through print, digital media, and conferences.

Vision

Thriving downtowns, walkable neighbourhoods, sustained natural environments.

Principles

  1. Niagara's communities focus development within urban area boundaries and protect rural and agricultural areas
  2. Diverse, accessible and attractive urban centres generate economic activity
  3. Infill and brownfield developments have priority over urban expansion
  4. New developments contribute to complete neighbourhoods that include mixed housing, and variety of housing types, commercial, institutional, parks, common areas, and institutional uses
  5. New development respects the historical built form of city development and integrates public transit plans and active transportation that reduce automobile dependency
  6. Housing developments do not segregate according to income
  7. Encourage small scale employers within neighbourhoods in order to maintain economic sustainability and reduce commuting
  8. Development charges promote Smarter Niagara principles, rewarding appropriate development and discouraging development that unduly adds to infrastructure costs
  9. Neighbourhoods require protection from development that diminishes its qualities. Instead development is encouraged that is compact, pedestrian friendly for all ages with most community needs within walking distance, and mixed use to provide a variety of opportunities.
  10. In existing suburban areas, policy direction and redevelopment requires mixed uses to promote neighbourhood self-sufficiency and walkability
  11. Streets are viewed as public places with the store or residential fronts, walk ways, and street geometry all integrated parts of the overall design
  12. Street design and redesign assign greater importance to residential quality, as well as pedestrian and bicycle use than the speed or volume of automobile traffic
  13. Major commercial development is directed to city cores with highway related development discouraged and permitted only when evidence ensures that city centres will not be further damaged by their creation
  14. Civic institutions, including schools, hospital, government facilities, are part of the urban fabric, on transit lines, and, especially in the case of schools, within student walking distance
  15. Graphic design codes and guidelines provide a superior means of clearly identifying development expectations and an understandable guide for public participation in the planning process
  16. Architectural design is reviewed to ensure that development and redevelopment fit well with the built environment and respect heritage preservation by-laws, without unduly hindering creativity in design
  17. Urban design addresses the need to reduce our carbon footprint, in building location, placement and design, transportation requirements, and energy requirements
  18. Infrastructure used in urban design improves rain water retention, reduces light pollution, and supports green spaces, community gardens, wetlands, and biodiversity

Recommend Strategies and Policies

  1. Develop and recommend strategies and policies that promote the mandate, vision, and principles of a Smarter Niagara as input to staff and Regional Council
  2. Where Provincial laws and policy restrict the implementation of Smarter Niagara objectives, the committee advises and suggests recommendations for legislative change
  3. Development recommendations that form the point of reference for future capital spending and revenue decisions as they relate to Smarter Niagara objectives

Promote and Communicate Smarter Niagara

  1. Organize and plan Smarter Niagara Summits that address current issues related to Smarter Niagara and seek to inform participants on the issues and potential solutions
  2. Recommend materials and content to staff for the Smarter Niagara website, brochures, and design guidelines that consistently and currently convey the objectives for a Smarter Niagara
  3. Develop appropriate measures that compare and then communicate changes to existing or former conditions that demonstrate progress in Smarter Niagara

Work Plan

The Smarter Niagara Steering Committee provides commentary to staff in the development of an annual work plan identifying the specific initiatives and activities to be undertaken within each of the areas of focus, inclusive of budget and human resource needs of Niagara Region, to further guide decision-making and resource management

Membership

The membership for the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee has a maximum of 15 members.

Membership for the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee shall be comprised of up to 3 Regional Council members combined with representatives from the community at large who have diverse interests as well as a gender balance. Smarter Niagara is a Region-wide initiative; therefore, the membership is geographically representative of the entire Niagara Region and represents a broad cross-section of Regional residents and interests. Recruitment may target but is not limited to the following organizations/interest groups:

  • Construction and Home Builders Associations
  • Downtown Associations
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Agricultural Organizations
  • Historical and Cultural Societies
  • Land Preservation and Environmental Protection Sector
  • Economic Development
  • Development Design Professionals
  • Developers and Realtors
  • Health, Social Service, and Housing Providers
  • Academics and Educators
  • Local Municipal Councillors

The term of membership is concurrent with Regional Council's elected term of office, and the membership is approved by Council in accordance with membership requirements in the Terms of Reference. Current Committee members indicate their desire to be reappointed to the Committee no later than the December meeting prior to the change in Council.

All attempts are made to stay within the guideline composition; however, if the applications received or the qualifications of applicants do not fully address the guideline composition criteria, the most capable and qualified applicants are recommended for appointment to fulfill the membership composition.

The initial call for membership is made in accordance with Niagara Region's established application process.

Working Groups

Each Working Group shall include at least one member of the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee.

Working Groups are considered to be time-limited, project-specific sub-committees of the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee in that they are convened to accomplish a specific task (or tasks) in a narrowly defined time period.

The Smarter Niagara Steering Committee will focus on the overall project, whereas the respective Working Groups will focus on component aspects of the project.

Budget and Resources

The Integrated Community Planning Department is the designated lead department regarding resource support for the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee; however, the Committee also has access to the technical expertise of staff from other Regional departments as may be required. It is recognized that staff time and the level of participation are dependent on other departmental priorities as determined by senior management and/or Regional Council.

The Integrated Community Planning Department allocates sufficient budgetary resources to fulfill the educational and communications mandate of the committee. Additional resourcing may be required for projects with senior levels of government. The committee may, in each budget cycle, suggest changes based on its proposed activities.

The Committee shall receive administrative support from the Office of the Regional Clerk for meeting and agenda management.

Meetings

A meeting schedule following a 6-week rotation is set for the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee. The schedule is circulated to the members for approval each year. Should a time-sensitive matter arise, the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee may meet at the call of the Chair. The Smarter Niagara Steering Committee meetings are held at Regional Headquarters at a time as determined by the Chair in consultation with the lead staff and the Office of the Regional Clerk. All meetings are open to the public.

Meetings shall be governed by the Region's Procedural By-law, being a by-law to govern the calling, place and proceedings of the meetings of Council and its Committees, as may be amended from time to time. This includes rules surrounding quorum, selection of Chair and Vice-Chair, conflict of interest, confidentiality, open meetings, and all other matters addressed in the Procedural By-law.

For any items arising from Smarter Niagara Steering Committee meetings that require Council approval or endorsement, Regional staff will present a report to the Integrated Community Planning Committee outlining the recommendations of the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee and the recommendations of staff.

Meeting minutes for Smarter Niagara Steering Committee shall be included on the Integrated Community Planning Committee meeting agenda for the information of Integrated Community Planning Committee and Regional Council.

A committee member who is unable to attend a meeting, shall forward his/her regrets to the Office of the Regional Clerk as soon as possible. Should the Office of the Regional Clerk not have confirmation of quorum 24 hours prior to the meeting, the meeting shall be cancelled.

Periodic Review

The Terms of Reference are reviewed and refined at a minimum of every four years to ensure that they remain current and meaningful.

Proposals to amend the Terms of Reference require the approval of a majority of the members present. Proposed amendments to the Terms of Reference are submitted to Regional Council for approval through the Integrated Community Planning Committee via a staff report accompanying the recommended Terms of Reference and take effect only upon the approval of Regional Council.

Absenteeism

Members who miss three unauthorized consecutive meetings shall be deemed to have resigned from the Committee and will be notified of this in writing by the Committee Chair.


Did you find what you were looking for today?