Monday, July 25, 2016
Nanaimo Council & eTown Hall Meeting - July 25
Public input or campaigning session?
The special open council meeting which went in-camera at 4:00 pm was estimated to reconvene in open at 6:00 pm (according to the notice on the city website). The eTown hall meeting was scheduled to start at 7:00 pm.
The live streaming did not start until about 7:13 pm and the eTown Hall was already underway, and the agenda items listed were not dealt with until the eTown hall meeting ended at 9:30 pm. The city rep on the Port Authority gave a brief update about activities at the Port Authority which is perhaps the first time I have heard anything from the Port Authority in an open council meeting. The other agenda item, a report on the VICC hotel feasibility study was cancelled.
The in-camera portion of this meeting went beyond the anticipated 2 hours.
While I did not actually count, I doubt there were 20 different members of the community offering their input or asking questions of council. In some cases the response from council sounded as much like election campaigning as it did simply addressing a question from the public.
That said, there seemed a genuine openness and real desire to hear from the public something lacking the last two times this exercise was undertaken.
Councillor Yoakim made the suggestion he would like to see another eTown Hall scheduled ASAP bringing a response from the City Manager that the intent was to hold another one in Sept. after summer holidays are out of the way.
Perhaps in the future if councillors can resist the urge to debate each other, there will be the opportunity for more meaningful public engagement.
The last person to address council during question period, clearly had not been impressed with the whole event. He did ask an interesting question; 'if this is a town meeting ... where's the town, you guys outnumber the audience'.
One observation, there seems an organized effort to not have culture or the environment lumped in with other committees. Valid objection, or protecting a special interest? There seems to be some familiar alliances.