It’s About Time

Ron Bolin: June 6, 2012

At Monday’s Council meeting, as a result of a petitioner’s pleading ignorance of an unfavourable RCMP report on his company’s request to change its liquor license so as to more than double its seating capacity, several Councillors, led by Councillor Brennan and supported by Councillors Greves and Anderson, put forward the proposition that as he had not read the report, the matter should be put over to another meeting.

This seemingly friendly accommodation for an out of town corporate representative serves to highlight a chronic problem with the timing of our Council meetings.  This representative had had exactly the same amount of time to read the agenda with its copy of the RCMP report as had any citizen whether in favour or opposed to the request.  In fact in many instances it has been possible to discern that Council has not had adequate time to consider matters raised in a 200-400 page agenda which they receive on the Thursday afternoon preceding Monday’s Council meeting.

It is time to demand that Council agendas be provided to Council and to the public at least a week in advance.  There are too many complex recommendations coming forth which cannot be adequately considered in the less than one a half business days which are allowed by the current schedule.  There is no reason why this cannot be done with minimal effort or consequence.  Moving a dam upstream does not change the volume of flow in a river but it does make possible the irrigation of more land.  Citizens need to demand the transparency demanded by a democracy and much touted during our last election.

The subject and the RCMP report are available in the agenda under item Item 8(f) under Community Safety and Development:

http://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2012_Council_Agendas/C120528A.pdf   pdf page 91ff and the video cam be found at:

http://www.nanaimo.ca/meetings/VideoPlayer/Index/C120528V

In another matter revolving around timing, see item 8(h) under Community Safety and Development:  http://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2012_Council_Agendas/C120528A.pdf  pdf page 97ff

Council approved a recommendation from Staff to: “direct the applicant to enter into a covenant with the City of Nanaimo requiring that the existing legal, non-conforming rooftop sign be removed prior to 2018-JAN-01.”  This permitted a five year extension to a non-conforming rooftop sign which Fred Taylor, during question period, pointed out was not legal as it status had been extinguished under Local Government Act section 911 by a lapse in use of more than six months.  We will need to keep an eye on this one to see how the City handles its apparent ineptitude in this matter.

Also of interest as matters of timing are the Special Council meetings which will now be held in conjunction with Public Hearings so that Council can give third reading to the subjects to the Public Hearing.  No longer will the subject matters be given time for sober consideration (unless the matter be explicitly held over), but neither will there be opportunity for Councillors to absorb additional input after the Hearing.

And then there is the matter of citizens bringing forward to Council matters not on the Agenda set by Staff.  Under the new policies recently adopted by Council, Citizens will be required to present such matters first to The Committee of the Whole (formerly the Finance and Policy Committee of the Whole) from which it can be forwarded to another Committee or to a “regular” meeting of Council.  Unless Council makes suitable arrangements to video these meetings and to distribute them either through Shaw as are Council meetings are currently, or on the City’s web site as they are currently, or both, presentations to CoW will have very limited exposure.

Now it’s time to get ready for tonight’s grand finale of the Strategic Planning process at the Coast Bastion Inn, 6:30-9:30pm.  Hope to see you there.

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