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Transit commission rejects quarterly meetings

Group will continue to meet once a year; commission has met for a total of a little more than two hours in eight years

Regional councillors have voted against having quarterly meetings of the Durham Region Transit Commission, of which they are all members. Since the mandate of the commission was changed in early 2007, it has met for a total of a little more than two hours, according to minutes posted on the region's website.

Regional councillors have voted against having quarterly meetings of the Durham Region Transit Commission, of which they are all members. Since the mandate of the commission was changed in early 2007, it has met for a total of a little more than two hours, according to minutes posted on the region’s website.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Durham Region’s Transit Commission meets once per year and gives its members, all regional councillors, a chance to enquire into matters relating to Durham Region Transit.

And following a motion at its latest meeting, it is going to stay that way.

Councillor Amy McQuaid-England introduced a motion that would see the commission meet every three months, rather than once a year, as it would allow commissioners the opportunity to be more involved in transit issues in Durham Region.

“This is about bringing up the standard of the commissioners who sit around this table who have the title commissioner, who receive phone calls regularly from individuals in the community who think, as commissioners, there’s more we can do. Sometimes it’s very difficult if you’re not on the same page or if you want to bring a motion forward…to get diverse voices on transit at the transit executive (committee),” she said.

“This is not to say that (the transit executive committee) is bad, this is just to say that as commissioners, we need to be more involved and quarterly meetings would just bring forward the minutes and give an opportunity for commissioners who have issues to bring those issues forward in a reasonable manner so that we can all be involved in the transit process throughout the year.”

Councillor Gerri Lynn O’Connor, who sits on the region’s transit executive committee, said that expanding the commission’s schedule is not needed, as the committee she sits on already meets more regularly.

“If there’s issues within a community, everyone should know who to go to and have those issues aired. And those meetings are open for everyone to come to,” she said.

“Very rarely do we have another member of council come and sit in on those meetings. So I don’t know what the issue is.”

Regional chair Roger Anderson agreed, saying that if a councillor that is not a part of the committee cannot convince a member to bring their motion forward, there may be a reason as to why.

“Every one of you can attend one of the meetings whenever you want. And if you can’t convince…six mayors and two councillors to bring forward a motion for you, then maybe the mayors and councillors don’t necessarily agree with you,” he said.

“But it’s not like you don’t have opportunities to speak to them.”

When it came to a vote, the motion failed with 18 voting against it. Only Oshawa’s McQuaid-England and John Neal, Ajax’s Steve Parish and Colleen Jordan, Whitby’s Elizabeth Roy, Pickering’s Kevin Ashe and Clarington’s Joe Neal voted in favour of having quarterly meetings.

Speaking with The Oshawa Express following the vote, McQuaid-England says it is unfair that transit commissioners have to wait a whole year to bring issues forward, and even then have it be subject to a time crunch.

“Our one-year commission is forced into under half an hour, which is unfair to commissioners who have issues that we need to deal with,” she says.

Durham Region’s transit commission was initially formed in 2006 to coincide with the creation of Durham Region Transit, which came from the amalgamation of transit services in Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax/Pickering and Clarington.

At its meeting on March 28, 2007, commissioners voted in favour of establishing the transit executive committee, which would meet every six weeks and handle day-to-day operations relating to Durham Region Transit. In turn, the commission was relegated to being held at the discretion of the chair.

Since that change, the transit commission has met 13 times for a grand total of 128 minutes prior to the last meeting, although no minutes are available on the Region of Durham’s website for meetings held on Jan. 23, 2013 and Oct. 29, 2008. The website also shows no meetings were held in 2009 and 2011. Meetings are typically held prior to regional council meetings.