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Diversity panel needs new blood

City hall's beleagured Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee down to six regulars

City Hall’s web of advisory committees are still limping along months after Mayor Larry O’Brien openly mused about killing the citizen-input arm of municipal decision making.

Among the committees is the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), whose mandate covers the gay community, ethnic communities and other minorities. That committee is down to six regulars, down from a full slate of 15, with six truant members and three vacant spots.

But recruitment for the board will begin in January, with as many as 10 spots up for grabs. At the Oct 15 meeting, former vice-chair Award Loubani promised to be diligent in the selection process, explaining the monthly commitment to prospective members in advance rather than taking “anyone with a pulse.”

Kevin Hatt, who won a Capital Xtra lifetime achievement award in 2006, has been following the committee’s movements for the last six months.

“I feel it’s very important that the community sits at the table,” Hatt says.

Hatt plans to put his name forward when the nominations are opened. He sees a host of municipal issues — health issues, housing issues, drug enforcement issues — as having a gay and lesbian element.

Hatt, past chair of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, is also a former board member of Capital Pride and the queer community centre project; all three are initiatives that receive or have received city funding.

Hatt says that the current members of EDAC have shown themselves to be interested in gay and lesbian issues.

“It’s very responsive to having the queer community as part of the discussion and very welcoming. When they do community reports, they always see if I have anything to say.”

In the last two years, the committee has focussed on the city’s hiring practices. But they’ve been unable to get their flagship initiative off the ground after they encountered administrative resistance to conducting a survey.

The City of Ottawa will put out an official call for members of all the committees in January. The interview process will take place throughout the spring, with new members joining the committees in May. Terms are typically three years.

Ottawa’s gay community has been represented by Jarmila Dokladalova, a former Pride board member and ToBe publisher, since Jan 2006. According to EDAC’s minutes, she is among the truant members of the committee. She could not be reached for comment.