Procedural thoughts on Telkwa council

Cameron Orr talks about council agendas in On the Line.

The Village of Telkwa council seems to bring up public comment every so often as they struggle with what the best way for the public to engage them.

As it is now, public comment is at the end of the meeting and is just that; comment. In theory, people aren’t supposed to ask questions, although it does happen.

The issue was brought up again at the last meeting when the Mayor asked for council’s direction on what to do with their existing bylaw. The mayor wanted it taken out.

As Telkwa councillors all agreed, engaging with the public is important, and there were some nice ideas including semi-regular informal meetings such as a “mayor-hosted barbecue”.

Were I a participating council member there is one thing I’d suggest, which is moving the public comment to the start of the meeting.

The first flaw with having the comment/questions at the end of the meeting is that it in a way treats the public as if they are on council, in the sense that it obligates them to stick to the meeting until the end. Non-elected persons likely have other obligations, I’m sure.

Secondly, if the public wants to offer their thoughts on something on the agenda they can’t until the actual discussion has passed. I forget the exact subject, but I’ve been to a Telkwa meeting where someone got the chance to speak at the end and admitted that they wanted to comment on something that already passed a motion only 30 minutes before.

I think a simple change in the agenda timeline would give a better ability to comment on issues and make the eventual council debates more informed.

Cameron Orr is editor of The Interior News.