On Monday, Saanich council patted itself on the back for approving a ballot question that will ask residents if they support a governance review of the municipality after the Nov. 15 election.
Mayor Frank Leonard has said the ensuing public input process would be costly, comprehensive and allow residents a say on all sorts of subjects (including the dreaded amalgamation debate).
To kick things off, here are a few suggestions to council that won’t require months of public feedback to implement:
1. Get rid of the mayoral throne in council chambers and create a room that feels accessible, welcoming and equal for all councillors. Lining up council and staff like they’re in a medieval court doesn’t encourage open debate and discussion.
2. Conclude in-camera business prior to the public portion of council meetings, so that when meetings conclude, citizens can directly mingle with councillors and the mayor. Other Capital Region municipalities use this method and it breeds public engagement.
3. Allow the public to address council at the start of council meetings. Create time limits so meetings don’t run late. It will only be overwhelming when there’s controversial business on the table, which is exactly when residents need to weigh in.
Three easy, overdue steps that don’t require public endorsement but will undoubtedly lead to better public engagement. Don’t break the bank on easy solutions.