Jan 22 update:
We have now received a reply from the Mayor to our email – he has not yet answered our question in the final paragraph. However, he did point out that it was not Coun. Keating who voted ‘no’ on Jan 11th, the ‘no’ votes came from him and another member.
texts of emails: NVCV- Public input correspondence Jan 15
Open letter addressed to Mayor and Council, City of North Vancouver
Copy to Editor, North Shore News
It appears the anti-democratic nature of a policy change made last June by North Vancouver City Council is finally rearing its ugly head. At the last two Council meetings, for the first time in our memory, Council voted to deny citizens the right to speak during the Public Input period.
In June 2015 the Mayor and his majority bloc on Council (Councillors Back, Buchanan, Keating) passed a bylaw stating that if more than five people signed up to speak for two minutes each at Public Input, it would require the unanimous consent of Council. Previously, extending the number past five just required a simple majority vote, and was generally treated as a mere formality. Everyone was welcome to speak.
At the Jan. 11 meeting, six people requested a chance to speak, but a No vote by Councillor Keating prevented the sixth from speaking. The following week, 15 people signed up, and this time the Mayor and his entire team voted against allowing more than the first five. At the end of the meeting Councillor Bookham asked the Mayor for clarification – why is the policy being strictly adhered to now? The Mayor’s response: “I won’t allow that type of question.”
Voices commented previously on the bylaw change (see https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/revised-council-procedure-bylaw/), which we believe runs contrary to the ideals of open government and citizen engagement. None of our neighboring municipalities have such draconian restrictions; most welcome the input of their citizens.
Many of our neighbors have asked us whether this will be the policy going forward – only 5 speakers at Public Input from now on, no matter what – or will it depend on which names councillors see on the sign-up sheet? We would appreciate a response from the City that we can circulate to concerned residents of our community.
Fred Dawkins and Toni Bolton for
North Van City Voices