Governance and the Governed
Ron Bolin: Dec. 3, 2015
The question of Governance has arisen on many levels in the last few years as so much of what we have hoped for seems to be receding from our grasp. I have started to assemble some materials which can provide an overview of governance as a concept and in practice which I hope can serve to bring more clarity to the issue and its importance. I look forward to hearing from you on this issue and how you believe that Nanaimo is living up to the task of governance…
http://iog.ca/defining-governance/ (See the video as well)
One can note several threads in the presentation, but we would like to direct your attention to the statement regarding local governments and the point that over 80% of Canada’s population resides in our towns and cities. This increasingly puts pressures on the relationships between these urban areas where most of the people are concentrated and where most of the wealth is, if not produced, then exchanged, and provincial and federal governments. While it is not the intent of this site to try to untangle the threads of the complicated intergovernmental pattern as a whole, it does hope to shine a light on the extent to which Nanaimo governance is impacted by other levels of government, and more, to shine a light on the extent to which, through its bylaws, Nanaimo can and does govern itself.
The creation and Status of Municipal governments in Canada
MUNICIPALITIES, THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE CANADIAN FEDERAL SYSTEM http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/researchpublications/bp276-e.htm
MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT IN CANADA From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ASSESSMENT OF THE MUNICIPAL ACTS OF THE PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES https://www.fcm.ca/Documents/reports/Assessment_of_the_Municipal_Acts_of_the_Provinces_and_Territories_EN.pdf
HOW DOES CANADA’S SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT AFFECT ME?
BC and Local Government
One problem is the growing length of the terms for our politicians. At the municipal level, for example, Nanaimo had a civic election each year for 100 years, then with increasing alacrity we went to two, then three, and now four years between elections. Though our information about what is happening is speeding up as is our ability to respond to our political leaders technically, our ability to respond at the ballot box has been greatly reduced. It has been said that though you may not be able to fool all of the people all of the time, you only have to fool them once to make off with the piggy bank and when one only gets a chance to correct an error every four years, a lot can be lost.
Local Government in British Columbia http://www.ubcm.ca/assets/library/Publications/Local~Government~in~British~Columbia/LGBC-All.pdf
BC Local Government Act (click on sections to see the full content) http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/96323_00
BC Community Charter (for registered municipalities, supersedes the LGA in some areas – click) http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/03026_00
Nanaimo’s Bylaws build on the Local Government Act and the Community Charter to spell out the details of Nanaimo’s operations
Council Procedure Bylaw 2007 No. 7060: A Bylaw to Regulate the Meetings of the Council and the Conduct Thereof.. Perhaps the most significant Nanaimo Bylaw as it outlines the procedures to be followed in the conduct of business in Nanaimo http://www.nanaimo.ca/ByLaws/ViewBylaw/7060.pdf
Nanaimo City Bylaw Search http://www.nanaimo.ca/ByLaws/
A List of the most common active Bylaws by Name http://www.nanaimo.ca/ByLaws/All
Using the City’s Web Site
Nanaimo has a web site which offers considerable latitude for finding information about the City and its activities and is kept relatively up to date. In particular, aside from the pre-set categories of information, the search capabilities overall (found in the search dialog box on the site’s opening page) as well as the ability to search the agendas and minutes of Council meetings or of Commission and Committee meetings for topics or motions can reduce the time needed to research a topic considerably.
In my opinion the site is currently missing a LIBRARY which contains all of the documents which have been prepared in-house at the request of Council or by paid consultant agencies or have been submitted as part of other contract services. I am not sure how this function has been overlooked as without it, each new project may be undertaken as if its subject has never been dealt with before, i.e. the City’s memory is impaired.
Minutes of any meeting currently do not appear in either provisional or adopted form for a period which sometimes exceeds a month. Minutes should be prepared and made publically available as provisional within two days of any official meeting of Council or its Commissions or Committees. I have been assured that they are prepared in that time frame or less. Significant actions by Council or their subordinate entities in the form of decisions, motions, notices of motion, etc. should be available to the public as quickly as possible so that any misunderstandings can be cleared and the effects of any motion passed may be ascertained as at the time of provisional passage.
I look forward to your comments on Nanaimo governance and how you think that it could be improved.
And as you ponder your response, you may wish to take a look at:
Open Government Report and Recommendations Citizens’ Representative Working Group Maple Ridge October 8, 2015.
An electronic library of government documents is an excellent idea. Currently, in most government websites, documents are scattered. To their credit the govenment of Alberta has incorporated a document repository within their open data site.
I agree with your point about the timeliness of minutes. In a recent analysis, I determined that there were 39 meetings between July and November, but only 20 provided minutes. Some only showed an agenda, some showed a notice and an agenda, some showed agenda and minutes, some showed only a notice, and a grand total of 3 actually had a notice, agenda, and minutes. I was particularly concerned that the last three core services review committee meetings provided no minutes. Interestingly, I sent an email to the legislative services manager pointing this out, and the minutes started appearing.
Les: It sounds like you should send a note on your total research to Legislative Services asking that all the missing info should be provided. I was glad to hear that they responded so quickly to your note regarding the core services review committee. If these procedures can be brought to where they are supposed to be by policy, it will be possible to move on to more positive things than trying to repair deficiencies. Thanks for your efforts on behalf of the citizens of Nanaimo.