Updated – Contrary to the Ideals of Open Government

We previously posted an Open Letter to the Mayor and Council, copied to the North Shore News.  We have now received responses from the Mayor and Councillors Back and Buchanan.  We have written to them again requesting an answer to our last paragraph.  The back and forth with each is posted below.  Still waiting for the answer from each.

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Mayor Mussatto:  NVCV – Public Input Mayor response
Councillor Back: NVCV – Public Input Back response
Councillor Buchanan: NVCV – Public Input Buchanan response

Original post:

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.

 Sincerely,

Fred Dawkins and Toni Bolton for

North Van City Voices

*correction – as pointed out to us by the Mayor, it was actually the Mayor and Councillor Back who voted NO.

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