Saanich council plan for public input needs public input

Monday night meeting allows public input on how to open up council

Saanich council is inviting the public to participate and speak about increasing public participation on Monday night.

This week, council reviewed a Jan. 23 report from staff that studied 31 B.C. municipalities and charted the varying opportunities for public participation at each council.

Staff discovered that Saanich and Oak Bay are the only municipalities without an opportunity to make formal public presentations at council, although Saanich does allow public comment on agenda items during committee of the whole meetings and at committees.

Discussion of the report was bumped to next Monday’s committee of the whole meeting to allow for more feedback, said Coun. Colin Plant, who put forward the motion to study how other municipalities allow for public input.

“There was a belief that because the report had only become available as of Friday, it was too fast of a turnaround to allow for full input and feedback from the public,” Plant said. “I believe that council will be open to allowing for more input from the public input at council meetings. The challenge will be for council to find a balance in time.”

Council’s absence of public input opportunity is glaring when compared to the “environmental scan” of other municipalities.

Plant wants to see the current rules, which do not allow for public input at council meetings nor for general comments, to expand to include speaking to items outside a public hearing, as well as a time for general comments or questions, in addition to formal presentations and delegations.

“I’m hoping council will make provisions for all three,” Plant said.

Generally in other municipalities, delegations can speak on anything once approved through a written request, while the entirety of the delegation period is limited to either one hour, or to presentations by a maximum of three to four parties per council session. As well, presentations are usually allotted a maximum time range of five to 15 minutes.

Residents are invited to speak for up to five minutes at Monday’s discussion or submit written correspondence to clerksec@saanich.ca by 4 p.m. Monday to be included. Council is held at Saanich Municipal Hall at 7:30 p.m.

reporter@saanichnews.com