Port McNeill Council has some new rules in place when it comes to questions from the public.
A list of procedures for asking questions was handed out at the town’s last council meeting on March 26, which lead to one resident expressing his concerns that questions to council will be too limited now.
“I was a little taken aback by the questions being limited to one,” said Derek Koel. “I’ve been attending council meetings since 2000, I’ve probably been to 100 of them, and Mayor Furney never had to do anything like this — I’m wondering what the reasoning is for it, if this is the mayor’s decision, and I would like to hear councillors state if they are in agreement with it or not.”
“It’s not limiting it to one question,” replied Mayor Shirley Ackland. “It’s asking one question per person at a time and going through the chamber so that one person doesn’t take up all the time we have with a series of questions, because there are times, like tonight, where we have had an hour and a half long meeting and have an in-camera (private) meeting afterwards, and we have a commitment in our procedures to keep our meetings not any later than nine o’clock at night … it’s not an intent to limit questions, we just want to make sure everybody in the gallery has an opportunity to ask a question.”
Koel did not ask a follow up question.
New procedures for asking questions at Port McNeill council meetings are as follows:
1. Before adjournment the public is offered the opportunity to ask questions first before the media. Questions typically stem from the meeting that is just concluding.
2. Raise your hand if you wish to ask a question.
3. When the chair (mayor) recognizes you — you may ask your question.
4. Please direct your question to the chair — the chair may direct a councillor or staff to answer but typically the chair will answer the question.
5. You may ask a question — not a list or series of questions as there are others in the gallery that may also want to ask a question. You may ask another question if directed by the chair to do so. If you have a list of questions, the town office is open daily and you may arrange time to talk with staff members at another time.