The Former Council’s first full Meeting: December 15, 2014

Ron Bolin: Nov. 20, 2018

It was with great interest that I watched the first VICC meeting of our new Council on Monday. Our new mayor and Councillors were all brief and deliberate in their speech and actions and the agenda was covered in just over an hour. I was particularly interested in what they would do with some recommended policy additions to the Procedure Bylaw which regulates public participation in Council and COW meetings as well as the actions of Council and of Staff. They, quite rightly in my opinion, postponed decision on the recommendation. [You may note that I use the term VICC meeting as Council meetings are held in the Shaw Auditorium at the VICC. Nanaimo does not have a Council Chamber, but rather rents the Shaw Auditorium for Council meetings when it is available.]

Intrigued by the idea of first meetings, when I came home I watched the first VICC meeting of our last Council. That meeting took place on December 15, 2014. The first thing noted in looking at the video is the change of characters on the stage. This is even more pronounced when one looks at the cast of our Council and Staff listed on the meeting minutes. For whatever reasons, the changes from one to the next have been dramatic.

Even more intriguing in reading the minutes of the 2014 meeting is to note that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It opened with Fred Taylor requesting to speak to the agenda as a delegation. He was added to the agenda and as part of the Adoption of Minutes.  He spoke to the issue of delegation notes and documents which were usually depicted in minutes only as Mr/Ms XX spoke on item YY and any related documentation provided by the delegation was not included in the minutes. He pointed out that in the Community Charter the minutes provide the only true documented record of a meeting as an agenda is a fluid document which can have many changes during a meeting. He made the strong point that written submissions are a substantive part of a meeting and should be included in the minutes.    From the minutes of Dec.15, 2014:

Delegation: 1. Mr. Fred Taylor spoke regarding minute documentation.
56614 It was moved and seconded that Council direct Legislative Services Staff to prepare a report regarding what constitutes complete minutes according to the governing legislation. The motion carried unanimously.

Further, under the Mayor’s Report:

(c) Amendments to the 2015 Council Key Date Calendar
56914 It was moved and seconded that Council:
1. amend the 2015 Council Key Date Calendar to change the Council Meeting dates from the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month to the 1st and 3rd Mondays;
2. change the Committee of the Whole Meeting dates from the 1st and 3rd Mondays to the 2nd and 4th Mondays; and,
3. direct Staff to prepare an amendment to “Council Procedure Bylaw 2007 No. 7060” to reflect these changes to the schedule of meetings.
The motion carried unanimously.

If one watches the video just after the 22nd minute, one can see Councillor Kipp putting forward the idea of another motion which included looking at the possible adoption of moving Council meetings to Thursdays which would provide more time for Council and the Public to review upcoming issues. I note that the minute as presented is vague on this point.

57014 It was moved and seconded that Council direct Staff to review the day and timing of agenda circulation and dates to reflect a longer period of time between the agenda publication date and the Council meeting date. The motion carried unanimously.

I do not know what became of the Staff review which was directed by Council. The points which Councillor Kipp raised remain outstanding. I have written about some of my concerns about the role of the Public in Council meetings in previous posts on this blog.  There are long standing issues in the relation of the Public to their administration which remain in need of work….