Saanich councillors are officially on holiday – sort of.
A five-week break from council meetings is now underway as municipal staff and candidates focus their attention on the Nov. 19 election.
“It’s in the council procedure bylaw that there’s no meetings the two weeks before the election,” said Carrie MacPhee, director of legislative services, acknowledging there are no council meetings between Oct. 26 and Nov. 28. “Under (the same) bylaw, they don’t meet on the fifth Monday in any month,” which happens to land on Halloween this year.
Prior to the 2008 election, Saanich council also changed the bylaw to not have a meeting on the Monday following an election.
“(Having a meeting on the Monday after an election) was really difficult for everyone involved, because staff was busy getting things ready for the election, and many council members are involved in that process,” MacPhee said.
The current council will meet one last time on Nov. 28 to “clean things up.”
“Items that have been through public hearing with the current council usually don’t go over to the new council. We generally wouldn’t introduce a lot of new business,” she said.
Victoria council follows a similar meeting schedule as Saanich. They won’t meet between Oct. 27 and Nov. 24.
It’s business as usual in Oak Bay and Esquimalt, where meetings are scheduled to happen each Monday between now and Nov. 21.
“I actually think people get better decisions when you take a break prior to the election,” said Mayor Frank Leonard. “The political dynamic is more appropriate at all candidates meetings and not council meetings. Having a break leading up to the election allows for that.”
Mayoral candidate David Cubberley understands, from a municipal staff perspective, why there are breaks, but says it may send the wrong message to the public.
“The business is ongoing and you’re being paid. You’re not being paid to campaign,” he said. “(Having meetings) keeps you in touch with the business of the municipality as it’s moving along.”
Though no council meetings will happen in Saanich until after the election, committee meetings are still scheduled through the campaign.