North Saanich councillors. They usually get along, but now they’re debating how long they talk at meetings and who talks the most. (File)

North Saanich council spends 36 minutes debating long meetings

Stopwatches and light signals aren’t going to be a part of North Saanich council meetings any time soon, but councillors are debating just how long it takes them to get through a meeting.

Coun. Celia Stock raised a motion recently, seeking to limit the amount of councilor discussion that takes place on any given issue — in an attempt to speed up their meetings. She said she wanted meetings run in a more effective and efficient manner and pointed to neighbouring councils in Central Saanich and Sidney that put time limits on how long a politician can debate a point.

“All of us have had this … on the radar since last fall,” Stock said. “We do often tend to have meetings that last (up to) four-and-a-half hours.”

In Sidney’s example, she continued, there’s a procedural bylaw in place that keeps debate per councilor to five minutes on each subject.

“And then they are not allowed to keep on speaking,” she said.

Central Saanich’s limit, she continued, is 10 minutes and the limit among Capital Regional District directors is 15 minutes. Stock said having similar limits in North Saanich could prevent meetings from going beyond 10:30 p.m. and “not subjecting staff” to long sessions of council.

It was clear, however, that other councillors have been timing each other and, instead of imposing limits, a majority suggested other means of keeping the meetings more succinct.

Coun. Heather Gartshore said their meetings vary from two-and-a-half hours to those longer ones Stock mentioned. However, Gartshore said the longer ones are rare — despite the three long ones council had in January.

“I feel this notice is born of frustration,” she said. “I feel as if this is trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer.”

Gartshore wondered how it would be enforced, such as having staff with stopwatches. She added she feels meeting length is related to agenda size, saying if North Saanich council met more frequently and didn’t break in the summer, the meetings could be quicker.

Gartshore also said if councillors come prepared and ready to go, meetings may also pick up.

“My observation is that doesn’t always happen.”

Coun. Geoff Orr noted with humour that Gartshore herself spoke seven minutes on the issue, but basically agreed with her. Her said he doesn’t feel he has to apologize for asking questions to reach the decisions he needs to reach.

Coun. Jack Thornburgh added he saw Stock’s motion as ‘aspirational’, rather than prescriptive. If councillors exercise self-discipline, he continued, there wouldn’t be a need for time limits.

In the end, Stock’s motion was defeated in a 5-2 vote (Stock and Mayor Alice Finall voted for it).

The entire debate took approximately 36 minutes.



editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Saanich set to crack down on overnight camping in parks

Local community leader says new measures promise to protect Cuthbert Holmes Park

Victoria woman to cycle Portugal as winner of BC Bike to Work Week

Malene Foyd logged 49km cycling to work with the Ministry of Environment; “I always bike to work, rain or shine.”

Chronic disease no obstacle for ultra-cyclist

Cross-Canada ride raises funds for Crohn’s disease

Victoria man in custody after downtown stabbing

Officers arrested suspect without incident, hours after afternoon stabbing

New kitchen for Mustard Seed built by volunteers

Members of HeroWork spent nearly a month building a new processing kitchen in Esquimalt

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

WEB POLL: Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?

Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?… Continue reading

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Late Bellingham homer sinks HarbourCats at home

Visiting Bells take two of three West Coast League games in Victoria, Cats off to Walla Walla

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Saanich mayor says results of amalgamation referendum are not predictive

Mayor Richard Atwell warns against reading too much into the outcome of… Continue reading

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Most Read