Controversy swirls around District of Sooke council agendas.

Paperless agendas stir up controversy

Paper council agendas no longer offered to the public or media for free

It isn’t easy going green. Just ask the District of Sooke.

As the district works toward going paperless, there’s been a few bumps in the road such as paper council agendas no longer offered to the public or media for free. (Full agendas are available online).

The practice was stopped three months ago, but it’s still an issue of contention among council watchers.

“Council should reconsider this because it is very important to keep people engaged in council and what’s happening,” said Ellen Lewers, pointing out paper agendas have been offered to the public since the municipality incorporated in 1999.

“Many of us are not so savvy as to use computers. It removes a lot of the public from being able to be involved as we should because this is an access to council and to council minutes.”

The district’s decision to no longer print agenda packages for free for the public was not a decision based solely on savings. The decision was partly to reflect the district’s desire to be more environmentally sustainable (the decision went public on Earth Day), as well as to reflect the fact that printing costs for documents is clearly a situation where a user fee model applies, said Gabryel Joseph, director of corporate services.

“Printing agendas in the district have never been free, it was just previously paid for from general revenues. The cost of printing documents is an example of a service that clearly falls within a user fee model.”

Council’s decision to go to a paperless agenda began in 2011 when municipal staff wanted to reduce the amount of paper that was generated to do district business.

The first step in the process was in 2014 when councillors were issued iPads for council work.

There is always a copy of the current agenda at Municipal Hall for public review and inspection, and there is no requirement for any member of the public to print agenda packages at the district office.

While this practice of not offering free agendas is new to Sooke, it is a common practice in municipalities across Canada.

“I do not have numbers of how many agendas used to be printed, but I do know that since I arrived, there were several meetings where packages were printed for the public and left in the council chamber that numbered in the hundreds of pages,” Joseph said.

 

Just Posted

Custom motorcycle and wood cutter stolen from Sooke motorcycle shop

2006 Husqvarna motorcycle and 2-ton log splitter taken from outbuilding

Remember Spunky? Santa came out to Sidney to check on him

Red-tailed Hawk made headlines last year after being stolen, raised by eagles

MISSING: 59-year-old Pamela Fletcher

Fletcher was last seen in the area near Royal Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 10

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to keep them in the loop

Call the hotlines for concerns on local provincial highways

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Woman guilty of impaired driving in death of Vancouver Island pedestrian

Man in his 70s killed in 2016 Courtenay multi-vehicle incident

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read