Two Nanaimo city councillors have put forward motions to increase the number of women, and potentially single parents, on city committees.

Councillors Tyler Brown and Erin Hemmens are calling for gender parity on all city committees and task forces, which are volunteer positions.

“We’re going to be looking at qualifications as well as gender if the policy goes through,” said Hemmens.

The pair are also bringing forward a motion that would see childcare expenses covered, if incurred while serving on city committees or city council.

Brown says he hopes it would lead to people, who might normally be discouraged from applying, to apply to be on these committees.

“Having a gender parity policy in place is going to ensure that people who might not apply are going to apply because they see the city is actually putting a policy in place to ensure their voice is represented,” said Hemmens.

But there are already critics. Council watcher Tim McGrath says the best-qualified person should be accepted on city committees and he says the city shouldn’t be paying for childcare.

“Who knows one of their spouses might be making a fortune and it’s not based on finances or need. It’s being based on the position. If you’re a friend of city council or on council you automatically get this bonus,” said McGrath.

Neither councillor putting forward the motion say they would personally benefit from the policy.

Those CHEK News randomly asked about the childcare motion were concerned about the cost.

“I just wonder where the money is going to come for it that’s the only thing but I do think it’s a good idea,” said Christine Dunham, a Nanaimo resident.

“If they’re an elected official and they’re getting paid for it I think they should pay their own childcare,” said Doris Bradbury, another Nanaimo resident.

Council will debate both motions at a future council meeting.

Their exact wording is as follows.

a. “That a report be prepared for council with a draft policy and framework for ensuring gender parity on all city committees and task forces”.

b. “That a report be prepared for council with a draft policy and framework for reimbursing childminding expenses for members of Council and City Committee Members that are incurred as a result of participation in official City of Nanaimo meetings”.

Kendall Hanson