Want to start the new year feeling important? Our city, it turns out, Needs Great People or so the ad says. No disputing that. Council seeks folks with "time and talents" to serve on tribunals and boards.
I see the ad in a free paper on the subway and head down to an info session at Metro Hall. Here, staff are answering questions. My interest is piqued by the request for property standards committee fence viewers.
"Yes, fence viewer would be a good retirement job," comments the staffer behind the table. On my few trips to City and Metro Hall, I've noticed the people who work there have a contented air, like professors with tenure on a comfortable campus.
Fence viewing is strictly seasonal, and the city craftily discourages it by charging each visit by a fence viewer (a four-hour minimum) directly to the property owner making a complaint about a neighbour's encroachment.
Volunteers can also serve on the board of Heritage Toronto, "committed to the development of a shared sense of place and memory among citizens." Bit of a challenge when most Torontonians come from some other place and much of what is remembered is gone. It's seeking 15 members of the public to advocate for the vestiges of historic T.O.
No degree is required to sit on any of the boards, just relevant knowledge, interest and experience. The Toronto Parking Authority takes in $95 million a year. Its board members get $500 per meeting, up to an annual maximum of $7,500 and need "a sound financial and administrative background, including experience in real estate joint ventures." A smart analyst could make some predictions about the city's direction here.
Four citizens will take home a warm feeling for sitting on the board of Exhibition Place. Sensitive management is crucial to maintaining the 192 acres of parkland and 25 historic buildings.
The Toronto Atmospheric Fund requires seven volunteers to help administer a $23 million city endowment to promote good air, energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction. A TAF report discusses LED retrofitting of traffic signals. No mention of the new video-game-style countdowns for pedestrians that leave slow walkers at the mercy of drivers who hit the gas when they see zero.
Five citizen appointees will work with the board of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which looks after 3,468 square kilometres of river valleys, Lake Ontario shoreline, headwater areas of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment: $65 per diem.
The Sinking Fund conjures up all kinds of images. Is it 1) cash in a biscuit tin to hire a band to play as the waves wash over condo penthouses? Or is it 2) $730 million accumulated for the redemption of debenture debts and an advisory role regarding city-managed investment portfolios? You'll get a $5,000 stipend if you convince them you understand number 2.
An optional page on every application has a range of racial selections, preceded by "Do you consider yourself to be...." Would I really pick "white/Caucasian ("origins include Canadian')? I've never eaten at Swiss Chalet or been to Tim Hortons. Newfies think I'm a Newf, so I think I'll check other.
Another trick question: "Do you consider yourself part of the LGBTT community?" Um. Then it explains LGBTT means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited. Me, I'm multi-spirited but "community"? I've never been to brunch. So again I'd have to check "Newfie."
My guess is that the Board of Health and Toronto Public Library Board get the most applicants. Six qualified citizens will assist in guarding our health for a token $125 per meeting.
The library is looking for up to three members possessing qualities not mentioned on the Airport Noise Management form: independence of judgment and personal integrity.
You can also try for the Licensing Tribunal, the Metro Convention Centre and the Committee of Adjustment.
Applications for all can be downloaded at www.toronto.ca/citizen-appointments. Your deadline is 4:30 pm January 10, 2007.
Happy board hunting.