- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

There is so much missing in virtual City council meetings.  The audience, the opportunity to see the faces of all the council members as they discuss and vote.  One thing that is left, of a fashion, is Public Question Period.

Many of our neighbouring municipalities have a much more robust version of this agenda item.  In some councils it comes at the end of the meeting.  In some, the questioner appears by video link, like people giving deputations, or some of the councillors themselves.  It is one of the few forms of public engagement in the council process.

In these "covid days", all questions for Public Question Period must be submitted in writing in advance - by noon on the day of the meeting - to the Clerk's office, [email protected]

Tonight there were three questions. 

There was little response to the first one, concerning Ryerson Park, and the third, about natural burial, got the promise of both a written AND a personal response.  There seems to be no set policy on responding to public questions.

The second question definitely got a response.  Halfway through Ms. Bloomfield's reading of the question aloud, Councillor Thomas called for a point of order, saying that the subject of the question was "ground that we have covered ad nauseum"  and asked if they could skip forward to the question being asked. 

Mayor Boddy consulted with the Clerk and said "letters come in; letters are read. We don't like those letters coming in in the past, but until council changes that policy, the letter has to be read to get to that question, and that's the policy that we have."

For the benefit of our readers, here is the procedural by-law for Public Question Period as of September 2020.

64. A person may ask a question of the Members on any matter during the Public Question Period portion of a meeting.

65.Persons asking a question must provide their name and the municipality in which they reside prior to asking their question.

66. Questions may be preceded by a brief statement that provides background for the question.

67.Questions are limited to a time period of five (5) minutes.

68.Members will hear the question and answer if appropriate.

69.The Chair has discretion to end Public Question Period based on the balance of business on the agenda for that meeting.

70.The Chair may curtail any question for disorder or any other breach of this by-law.



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