Letter: Public needs more time to peruse council agendas

Minimum one day with agenda is not enough time for residents

Re: Bid for extra council agenda time fails, Oak Bay News, Nov. 23.

Should council only consider themselves?

The article explains that most members of council feel the notice time for circulation of meeting agendas and supporting information “works well” and there is “ample time to prepare.”

Perhaps the councillors (other than Coun. Eric Zhelka) missed the Oak Bay News article on Oct. 26 on the extensive Urban Forest Report citing the “largest concern voiced by the public was simply the time” to respond.

Council also failed to hear comments from the public about the lack of sufficient time to prepare for the Sept. 10 council meeting addressing infill; the Sept. 12 meeting addressing derelict boats and water lot leases; or the council meeting held at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 23 regarding deer management; or a one-day public notification for the last annual budget itemized as the general fund.

Although these are recent examples, there have been many more complaints in council meetings in the past few years about inadequate public response time for important documents.

Although a weekend may be ample time for council to approve most agenda items, including development permits and variances, it is another matter for the public to analyze and consider the community impacts, perhaps inform other residents and respond with a submission.

Could this be why Coun. Zhelka requested more public lead-time and a change from council’s current one-day notice legislated procedure?

The greater irony is that this is the same council who agreed to change the time for written submissions by the public from Thursday to Wednesday prior to the Council meeting.

No explanation as to how the public is expected to submit their concerns by Wednesday if the agenda is not available until two days later – very late on the Friday.

The process the way it stands is not a good way to engage the community. Or maybe that’s the plan.

Mary Douglas Hunt

Oak Bay