The Perennial Triennial Problem

Making decisions on a plan typically spans more than one electoral cycle (sometimes several), with the resultant loss of experienced councillors with knowledge of the process and earlier decisions. There are some techniques used to address this problem: 

  • When developing the framework for the preparation of a plan, recognise the triennial election cycle in programming the decision-making cycle. 
  • Retain experienced councillors as hearing commissioners once they leave the council, especially to continue partly heard or undecided issues. 
  • Analytical rigour and councillor training should help balance any lack of continuity over time. Commit some resources toward the training of councillors involved in the process, with refresher training as needed. It is particularly important councillors understand their governance role, including that of collective responsibility, as well as their quasi-judicial role. 
  • Establish a protocol for hearing submissions and making decisions that can endure the time of the process and any changes in committees and staff.