Three Rivers councillor determined to get residents' input back at every council meeting

·2 min read

THREE RIVERS — Coun. Cindy MacLean wants Three Rivers' meeting agendas to allow residents to share their thoughts with council at every meeting.

Up until a few weeks ago, that was always the case.

"Anybody from the gallery could get up and speak on whatever they wanted to speak about," MacLean said. "(But) apparently we, as council, have not been following proper procedural bylaw."

MacLean has raised her concerns at Three Rivers' past few meetings, most recently during a committee meeting in Georgetown on Oct. 26. The allotted time for delegations on council's agendas was changed following a meeting discussing a permit for the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute, which was often interrupted by members of the public's interjections.

At a later meeting, Mayor Edward MacAulay said he wanted council to better enforce Three Rivers' procedural bylaw that requires residents to let staff know by the Wednesday before the meeting if they wish to speak. That bylaw had been loosely adhered to until recently.

"I don't feel it's good for us, and I don't think it's good for the public," he said at the time.

If residents don't call in advance there would be no delegation time to ensure that meetings stay orderly and that council knows who is speaking beforehand. MacLean argues the procedure makes council less transparent.

She put forward a request to amend the bylaw so each individual attending meetings is allowed five minutes to address council on a topic during the delegation time without having to schedule in advance.

"I believe public input is necessary," she said.

The request was moved forward to be decided on at council's next meeting. MacAulay stayed on the sidelines of this meeting's discussion for the most part, but a few councillors chimed in.

Coun. Jane King agrees the public should have a right to speak, she said.

"But I think that they should notify our staff before."

Deputy Mayor Debbie Johnston agreed with King, noting that meetings can sometimes become tense if residents aren't fully on board with an agenda item. It's only fair that council knows ahead of time what residents wish to speak on, she said.

Coun. David McGrath pointed out that residents might not know what they wish to speak on by the Wednesday before a meeting.

"When the agenda doesn't come out until Friday," he said.

MacLean also said it's the mayor's role to get control of meetings if they get out of hand. She then noted that MacAulay has done a good job of doing just that.

Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian