After three council meetings in a row lasting close to five hours, Coun. Helena Konanz wants to see if there is a better way.
Lengthy public hearings prior to the March 21, April 4 and April 18 meetings meant council didn’t finish until between 10 and 10:30 p.m. on those nights. A record-breaking meeting last May ended up running past midnight.
“They are too long. I don’t think anyone can be at their best when they are in their sixth hour of making decisions,” said Konanz, who introduced a notice of motion on April 18 to have staff research schedules of council meetings and public hearings held in other municipalities and report back with options for beneficial changes to the 2017 Penticton City council meeting and public hearing schedule.
Earlier in the April 18 meeting, after realizing there was going to be three public hearings before the May 2 meeting, Konanz suggested council should look at alternatives.
“What I don’t support is having three public hearings on May 2. I am wondering if we can find an alternate time, because I don’t think it is fair to any of them to have three at one time, or to us. I think that will be a massive meeting,” said Konanz.
According to Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, Penticton city staff has already begun looking into alternate schedules. He said he has two concerns, the first being to look at how council and staff can be more efficient with their time. Looking at meeting times also fits in, he continued, with city council’s focus on better engaging with the community.
Councillors had varied opinions on scheduling meetings. Coun. Campbell Watt said his main concern was that they have time to absorb the information after a controversial or lengthy public hearing.
“I realize the impact that may have as far as timing goes, but at the end of the day, I think it is more important to be confident in our decisions. That is the only thing I would change from the current format,” said Watt.
Coun. Tarik Sayeed said he was OK with long meetings, provided they were expected so he could be mentally prepared. But he echoed Watt’s thoughts about decision-making.
“For some of them, I think it is prudent and necessary for us to sleep over it and then make the decision in the morning or the day after,” said Sayeed.
Konanz’ motion will come forward at the May 2 meeting, where, if passed, will give official endorsement to the research already being done by staff.