Pending final approval, Sidney regular council meeting will start at 6 p.m. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney councillor ponders providing daycare to help public at council meetings

Pending approval, Sidney council meetings to start an hour earlier at 6 p.m.

A Sidney councillor wonders whether the town should start providing care for children whose parents want to attend council and committee-of-the-whole meetings.

“So if we are concerned about limiting peoples’ participation, we might need to do what other councils have done, and start looking at child care provision,” said Coun. Sara Duncan. “I don’t know how many people in Sidney would take us up on that. We are such a small municipality, but I think that would be the main one.”

Duncan made these comments as council gave three readings to a bylaw amending the starting time for regular council meetings. They will now start at 6 p.m., the same time as committee-of-the-whole meetings. Pending final approval, the revisions also include a small number of changes to other procedural aspects, with none drawing more debate than starting regular council meetings one hour earlier from previous practice.

Couns. Scott Garnett and Terri O’Keeffe opposed the change during third reading. Duncan joined Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith as well as Couns. Barbara Fallot, Chad Rintoul and Peter Wainwright in support of the changes.

RELATED: Sidney looks at earlier council meetings

Garnett said he opposed the change because it threatens to undermine public participation. The earlier starting time could make it more difficult for Sidney residents working outside the community to make it back in time to attend regular council meetings.

Duncan disagreed. The number of people who can make a 7 p.m. starting time, but not a 6 p.m. starting time due to conflicts with work or family is “vanishingly small,” she said.

“The reasons those people can’t make it because of work or family commitments is not because of the time, but the fact that it is in the evening, or they can’t afford or don’t want afford the child care,” she said, before making her appeal.

She also made the argument that white-collar workers impacted by the change can always ask their employers to leave early to attend council at the new starting time, then make up the work later. This argument drew a rebuke from O’Keefee.

“Talking about people with white-collar jobs, we are making some broad presumptions about what peoples’ experiences are,” she said.

O’Keeffe also wondered why council would erect a potential barrier to political participation. “We didn’t hear anything from the community to bring this forward,” she said. “This came forward on your own initiative.” While staff and council would benefit from the new starting time, O’Keeffe said she supports 7 p.m. meetings if it potentially allows more people to attend.

McNeil-Smith said it is not a given that fewer people will attend.

While six or fewer people regularly attend both council and committee meetings, people have demonstrated that they will make arrangements to attend committee of the whole meetings at 6 p.m. if items on the agenda are important to them. “We have had some full houses for some [committee of the whole] meetings.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Consumer bankruptcies down in Greater Victoria

More residents are making alternative arrangements to settle their debts

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Homes fit for royals for sale in North Saanich

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have returned to Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

Activists want Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demands to be upheld, observed and respected

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read