The following letter was sent to all members of Vancouver City Council.
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,
Re: Proposed Amendments to the procedure Bylaw No. 9756 and New Pilot Program
Agenda October 23, 2019: https://council.vancouver.ca/20191023/pspc20191023ag.htm
Item 2: https://council.vancouver.ca/20190724/documents/cfsc4.pdf
Redline Version: https://council.vancouver.ca/20190724/documents/cfsc4redline.pdf
The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes this report’s recommendations and encourages Council to not approve it as proposed, but instead address the many concerns first.
This report has been brought forward without any meaningful public consultation while it greatly restricts democratic processes and the relationship between elected officials and the public they represent. Vancouver has a long history of public participation in the democratic process of governance, but these changes would undermine that participation.
We note that there are numerous concerns to be addressed, of which a few are listed in the attached Appendix A.
For example, the report proposes that Council members’ motions require 2 meetings notice (4 weeks), which is much longer than the current bylaw requirement of only one week ahead, or current pilot of 1 meeting notice (2 weeks). Meanwhile staff reports (which are usually large and complex), and Council agendas, are only required to be provided by noon on the day prior to the Council meeting. Instead, we suggest allowing 2 weeks notice at prior Council meeting and agenda posted the next day. This has been an ongoing concern of both the public and Council.
We urge you to address the many issues raised and revise the bylaw accordingly. We also are opposed to the proposed pilot project that would restrict Councillors from asking speakers questions. Please reconsider.
Larry Benge, Co-Chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-Chair
On behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods
Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods
Arbutus Ridge Community Association
Arbutus Ridge/ Kerrisdale/ Shaughnessy Visions
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
Dunbar Residents Association
Fairview/South Granville Action Committee
False Creek Residents Association
Grandview Woodland Area Council
Greater Yaletown Community Association
Joyce Area Residents
Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
Kits Point Residents Association
Marpole Residents Coalition
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
Residents Association Mount Pleasant
Riley Park/South Cambie Visions
Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners Association
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours Society
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association
Proposed Amendments to the procedure Bylaw No. 9756 and New Pilot Program
Many of the proposed amendments are anti-democratic by reducing the relationship between elected officials and the electors they are responsible to represent. For example:
- Proposal that Council members’ motions require 2 meetings notice (4 weeks) which is much longer than current bylaw of only one week ahead, or current pilot of 1 meeting notice (2 weeks). (9.1, 9.3)
- Meanwhile staff reports (which are usually large and complex) and Council agendas are only required to be provided by noon on the day prior to the Council meeting. Instead, allow 2 weeks notice at prior Council meeting and agenda posted the next day. (3.3)
- Only one speaker or representative per organization allowed, even though individuals within an organization may personally have different issues or concerns. (7.5)
- Councillor’s questions of speakers cannot be leading to allow speakers more time. (7.7)
- Proposed new pilot program would not allow Councillor questions of speakers at all.
- Speaker’s time reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes and groups from 8 min. to 5 min. when the majority of the public did not support this change. (7.5, 7.7,13.18)
- Moving of Councillors’ motion only allowed to be 2 minutes when speakers get 3 minutes and restrictions on citing preamble. (9.6)
- Public hearing agenda proposed to only be made public 3 business days before the hearing. It should be posted at least 2 weeks before the hearing. (13.7)
- Electronic meetings allowed for special Council meetings and In-Camera meetings. There are concerns that this is premature, especially regarding public participation and for what kind of issues. The report says if the meeting is called on short notice, but the bylaw doesn’t. (Part 14,14.2)
- Special Council meetings have no definitions and can be initiated by the Mayor without Council vote. (Definitions, 2.5)
- Councillor’s motion being redefined as a referral report that doesn’t allow speakers.
- New definition of improper conduct that could result in Councillors’ removal from the meeting. Restrictions on public, advisory committee members, and councillors from being critical of city or staff policy, programs or practices. This could be in conflict with the Vancouver Charter as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Definitions, 4.4(e), 7.8)
- Removal of 3 pm hard start at Council committee to hear from speakers on Councillor’s motions, intended to make speaking times more predictable for the public.
- Bylaw circulation to Council doesn’t require links to reports or red line copy showing changes. (10.1)
- Need to restore clause that restricts a Councillor who has been absent from an entire public hearing from voting. (former 18.27 to be added as 13.26)
- Expanded role of City Manager to comment on advisory committee reports undermines the independence of advisory committees. (15.15)
Many issues that require clarifying language regarding public hearings, meetings in general election year should be restricted to new council turnover not just to election day, recording of meetings and clarification of archived videos being easily accessible online, public’s rights to record public meetings, request to speak process, extreme limits on reconsidering an adopted motion, authenticating public comments, (2.3, 2.9, 3.14, 7.3, 8.6, 8.14, 13.11)