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

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

New home in Saanich for adults with disabilities moves closer to fruition

Anonymous donor steps up with $1 million donation during fundraising campaign

Justin Trudeau’s carbon footprint revealed in ranking of world leaders

Travel company ranks 15 world leaders’ foreign flight CO2 emissions

Turf field project at Esquimalt High School awaits government response

The Es-Whoy-Malth Community Field Collaborative would see new fields and a clubhouse installed

North Saanich extends search for Sandown operator after only one credible proposal

District extends deadline for operator bids to Aug. 30 at 3 p.m.

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

B.C. First Nation’s group using ads in Texas targeting company for fuel spill

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

LETTER: Refining bitmen not a good idea

One of the arguments against increasing the capacity of the Trans Mountain… Continue reading

LETTER: Welcome to Nevergreen Mall

Re: Work starts on mall expansion (News, July 17) Welcome to Nevergreen… Continue reading

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Most Read