The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is an advisory group that meets at project milestones during the concept phase of project development. These meetings allow members to discuss project alternatives and encourage participation in project decision-making where applicable. The committee members are individuals who represent a diverse variety of groups and perspectives.
In the interest of group facilitation and consensus building, the CAC is limited in size from 12 to 20 members (depending on the size of the project). A group facilitator hired from outside the Department will lead each CAC meeting. Group decisions are made by consensus and a variety of consensus-building techniques and activities are used to structure group discussion.
The purpose of the CAC is multi-faceted. Primarily, it allows the Department to enter into the community and begin building partnerships with and networking information to community members via their community leaders. Additionally, the committee offers an opportunity for true public involvement at the beginning of the conceptual process.
It offers a mechanism to channel the energies of the community and affords representatives of active community groups to be heard in a constructive way. By participating in discussions and facilitated sessions concerning the issues of the project, the committee members bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the project team. By virtue of their involvement in project discussions, committee members have become partners with the Department.
Some of the roles and responsibilities of the CAC include:
To gather input about the project issues from the constituency represented and bring these issues to the CAC and to distribute information and the decisions of the CAC back to the constituency represented.
To define the critical issue of the project from the needs and desires of the constituency represented.
To create a “mission statement” about the critical issues, and the need and purpose of the project.
To assist in the development of alternate concepts based on constraints presented – local, design, environmental (man-made and natural), financial – and to analyze these concepts for compliance with the mission statement and the critical issues. Also, to eliminate the concept alternates that do not comply.
To attend all Public Information Meetings (PIM) used to present the alternate(s) that the CAC agrees upon and to answer questions by the PIM attendees.
To attend all CAC meetings beginning in the concept development stage and throughout the design process.