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Council employs new public engagement tool
A new process designed to solicit more public input at meetings is now underway at Port Alberni city council.
One speaker took advantage of the new format at council’s Jan. 28 meeting, speaking to the Port Alberni Shelter Society issue before council.
Only one of five permitted speakers spoke and that’s a start, Mayor John Douglas said.
“This is a trial run. We’re going to try it out and see how it works and keep trying it,” Douglas said.
City councillors adopted the new process at their Jan. 14 meeting.
The process will see a new 10-minute time period added to the start of each council meeting.
A maximum of five speakers will be given two minutes each to address council on agenda items or issues relevant to council.
“There are some restrictions but it’s basically a free-for-all,” Douglas said.
The new agenda item is not meant to replace question period at the end of council meetings.
Participants will be chosen by show of hands at the start of each meeting.
Before commencing, speakers must state their names and addresses, much like in question period, and will only be allowed to speak once. Speakers may not bring up matters that were concluded at public hearings, or matters that are part of current public hearings.
The format allows for input only and there is no expectation for an answer from council. “It is not a question period,” the report notes.
Offensive talk or gestures to or about any city staffer or councillor will not be tolerated, the report notes.